Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Celebrating Grace

I had a grand weekend! Saturday was the Friends of Israel Ladies Tea and Brunch. What a wonderful group of women as we looked at Psalm 37 and finding rest in our busy lives. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with them. The ladies were very welcoming and an easy group to speak to. I celebrated God's gracious opportunity to share His Word with them.
Sunday night was a reception celebrating my parent's 50th wedding anniversary! I celebrated so many things in relation to this. I am blessed with a godly heritage and an example of perseverance. My parents have lived out before us 2 particular lessons: 1. life is not always easy and 2. love is a choice. I am grateful to God to continue to have watched, and to continue watching, them as they love God, each other and those He places around them (including my siblings and I!).
My parents have long held on to Proverbs 3:5-6. I had the opporutnity to share with the people at the reception just a few thoughts from these verses that I believe my parents have lived out and I thought I might share them here as well. First is the word "trust". These familiar verses begin with this word and provide a foundation for our lives as we interact with all that happens around us. Trusting God--believing He is who He says and will do what He has said---provides the security and safety that allows me to love others and live without fear.
Second is the word "know". The verses say, " all your ways acknowledge Him..." That word "acknowledge" actually means to pursue, and seek. We are not to merely point God out after an accomplishment (as we see in the athletic arena for instance) or while we are going through life, but rather we are to see Him, seek and pursue Him in every situation.
Third is "follow". Verse 6 says, "and He will direct your paths," God makes known His ways, but we must always listen with the intention of following His leading. Biblical "hearing" is accompanied with action. Rather than merely asking God what to do, we should have movement in mind as we listen to His answer.
Trust God...Know God...Follow God. These are 3 lessons I have gained as I have watched them live together for 50 years (well, I haven't seen ALL 50, but close!). None of this could ever happen of course, were it not for grace. So though, I celebrate this milestone in my parent's lives, I also celebrate God's grace in them.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Today I will express my faith

This week I had the privilege of doing a workshop at the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches National Conference (wow, that's a mouthful!). Their theme was Authentic Church and my workshop was from Galatians 5:1-6:10 and titled, "Called to Freedom". There is plenty in that passage to unpack but the gist really is that we are CALLED (chosen, picked out) to express our FAITH (act out our belief that God is who He says and will do what He says) in LOVE (what is best for the other person, rather than my comfort). At the end of the session I read a piece that I have adapted from a Max Lucado writing entitled, On the Anvil. Several have asked me for a copy and I thought it might be a good idea to post it as a reminder to all of us, a statement of resolve, as we interact with the other "parts" of our "body". I hope it is your personal statement as well as mine.

Today I will express my faith.  I will begin with recognizing my freedom as a way to show love to those God has placed around me.  I do not have to earn God’s favor, in fact, I can’t, but through faith I can express God’s grace to me by serving others.  I refuse to allow the philosophy of “me first” rule my lifestyle. I will not use my freedom selfishly—that will only lead to the destruction of “us”.   

Today I will express my faith. I will be grateful for the opportunities that come my way today—both hard, and comfortable.  Life is too short to chase down everyone else’s philosophy I would rather live by truth.  Each day brings with it new choices to be made—new ways to show others God’s grace.  Making right choices does not come naturally.  It is a conscious effort.  If I do not pay attention wrong choices will have domain.  I will be an active participant in my own life—paying attention to what I am thinking, feeling, seeing, and hearing, …and interacting with it all.

Today I will walk humbly and responsibly.  There will be some I will need to help and others whose help I will need to receive.  I will be a part of the body—willingly helping, restoring and caring in tangible ways.  Today I will show love by listening, touching, serving, affirming, giving or just being.  I choose to live knowing God is watching and that my actions and deeds will produce fruit that is God’s.

I will do good despite hardships, despite a lack of visible results.  Life does not always produce results as quickly as we would like.  There will be some who will not accept or understand my good will but I will persevere for it is God who will reward me.  This body is not mine.  It is made up of His people.  I am only a part, but I can make a difference as I follow His leading.
Today I will express my faith.  Today I will live free. Today I will love.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Resting With My Eyes Open

I have been known to sleep (so I’m told) with my eyes partially open. It certainly doesn’t bother me at all, but those around me who are not napping at the time tend to have an aversion to this. I am usually awakened ever so gently and asked to close my eyes.

Certainly there is no advantage to sleeping with your eyes open. You can’t nap AND still be a participant in what is going on around you, but it IS possible to do the opposite--keep your eyes open and rest. Perhaps that sounds a bit obvious, but I really don’t think it is.

There are many times when we are awake, and perhaps resting, but our eyes are “closed”—we are running in neutral, shut down and just going through the motions. This can be a dangerous thing and can allow us to drop our guard. When we have our eyes “closed” we stop looking for God, learning from Him and of Him. We are not participating in His plan. We are not engaged in His work. Our minds and hearts take a break from reality and in the “land of imagination” we usually become the main attraction. Nothing good happens when I become the center of my world. I have proven that too many times. Keeping my eyes open helps me keep perspective. Rest is good. Missing God’s action is not.

Its summer time and I certainly am ready for a little rest, but make no mistake, when I rest God will continue to work…to reveal Himself and I want to be sure I learn what I can about my God.

I think I’ll take a nap…with my eyes open.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Celebrating Love

Wow! Its February already!!! Seems like just yesterday we were talking about finishing 2011 and beginning 2012. Here we are well on our way. As we begin what is often referred to as the “Love Month” I thought it might be good to reflect on a few of the gifts God has given me recently.
January brought a celebration of life and heritage as we sang “Happy Birthday” to my Gram. She turned 99 last month! What a wonderful gift God has given in this godly heritage. I am blessed to live close enough to be a part of the celebration and celebrate we did—complete with ice cream, cake, and several rounds of “skip-bo”.

Last week God also blessed me with a “family reunion” of some former basketball players. Over 20 people (players, husbands/fiancĂ©e’s, and a few children, and even some player’s parents) gathered at my house throughout the weekend. Our main time together was dinner Saturday night. What a great time to watch, listen, and enjoy all that God has done and continues to do in each of us. I enjoy their interactions with one another. This is a special group of women and I am blessed to be called their “coach”.

A new semester has started here on the campus of Baptist Bible College. Along with the usual Physical Education majors’ core courses, I have the privilege to teach the New Testament epistle, 1 Peter, this semester. What a wonderful reminder of our living hope, and how we should respond in light of it! I am thoroughly enjoying the group of students God has brought together for the class this year.

Oh how He loves me! There are so many other ways God has shown me His love—anything from finding lost earrings, to good health, to my job here at BBC, to the people in my home church…and the list goes on. I hope you are aware of all the ways God is showing you just how much He loves. Even if your life isn’t what you think it should look like right now, God IS revealing Himself and when we open our eyes to seeing Him rather than our circumstances, He helps us see some of the ways we have been missing.

Celebrate the “Love Month”! Celebrate God’s love for you by seeing who He is, what He has done, and then responding.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

time for something new?

A new year usually brings new goals, or resolutions, but my guess is that they are actually the same old ones wrapped with new intentions and new hopes for success. Perhaps the goals have new methodology behind them or are empowered with the new technology but they are just the same old dreams of last year.

This month I want to encourage us to think about the new. God exhorts us to put off the "old" and put on the "new". What is it in your life that is "old"--worry, anger, gossip, shame, doubt, fear...? How about starting this year by putting it off, throwing it aside and giving it to God (who, may I remind you, knows all about it and is in complete control).How about living today trusting that God is who He says He is and that He loves you as much as He says He does? If that one statement really were true, how would your life be different?

This year I want to live more of my life, to actually participate in each moment and not waste it on the "old". I want to have more "new" in me and flowing from me to those in my sphere of influence. I want to allow God to do something "new" in me, for me and through me!

How about you? Isn't it time for something new?!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Its Christmas!

This time of year is known for its traditions--egg nog, singing Christmas carols, giving and receiving gifts, decorations, lots of sweets, big meals, family,...the list goes on and on. I am confident I have enjoyed most, if not all, of those traditions during this season, though I have tried to cut back on the volume in the sweets category! In the midst of all the traditions this season, I was thinking this morning that I need to be careful to pay special attention. It is too easy to miss the importance of what we are celebrating if we just "do" tradition.
This season I hope you will take time to see something new, or just to see the tradition in a new way, to appreciate what it is...actually WHO it is we celebrate. Whether you are singing, looking at lights, eating, spending time with family...whatever your traditions...take a moment (or more!) to consider the reason for those traditions. Most of all, be sure to celebrate the life God has given us through the gift of His Son, Jesus! May we respond to the Gift as the shepherds and wise men did--compelled to come closer, to tell others, and most importantly to respond with worship!
Merry Christmas! May His life be seen in our lives by those around us.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Take a Walk

I took a walk this morning. It was a bit confusing to be honest. The calendar says October (yes, it is the END of October!) but the snow on the ground was screaming December. This visual helps as I practice for our church’s Christmas music, but the green grass poking through the snow that was covered by falling leaves was just a little odd this morning. God certainly likes to mix it up sometimes.
The walk was a great opportunity to review the past two weekends. God has been good indeed (as always!) as I looked into the Word together with the women of Hope Grace Brethren church last weekend, and then with Faith Baptist this past weekend. We studied God’s calling out to us to “come as you are” and our reluctance at times last weekend. Then, our study this weekend focused on our interactions with one another and “walkin’ with my sista’!”

One of the best things about traveling and speaking, to me, is watching God do His work. Communicating that which is living, pertinent and powerful, and then watching as God’s Spirit does His work is just incredible…no…more like awesome. (Those who know me know I don’t use that word for anything except God, and it definitely fits here!) To be sure, there is nothing better to me than teaching the Word.

The busy schedule will slow a bit now and the emphasis will shift now to more class work preparations, teaching online and of course our Wellspring Sunday school class prep. Along with that, November brings my favorite holiday…Thanksgiving! It is still a few weeks, but these past months have flown by and the holidays will be here much quicker than anticipated.

As you finish the last couple months of the year, be sure to take a walk now and then just to review what God has done in your life…and don’t forget to say “thank you” J