Nit Picking

Luke 6:1-16 Nit picking has to get on God’s nerves. I know it frustrated Jesus. In Luke 6 Jesus is in the Temple focusing on prayer, the scripture, and helping everyone understand about the Kingdom. The religious elite were there to try to “catch Him” in something that would condemn Him. The man with the withered hand happened to be the show down. Jesus knew their thoughts even before they spoke them. He chose to show His power to heal and do good anyway. How often do we nit pick at each other looking for a weak spot to tear one another down instead of building up. I think it comes from jealousy and not being content in ourselves. The end result is division. It divides friends, families, and even churches and organizations. It also makes people not want to be a part of fellowship with the offender when they feel like that person is always picking at them or looking for their imperfections. Truthfully all of us have something that someone could point out as less than perfect. if you are a nit picker, stop! It doesn’t make you any better finding other people’s weaknesses and pointing them out. If you have been offended, forgive. It isn’t worth the effort to hold a grudge against someone who has probably moved on and doesn’t even remember they offended you. If you have used this excuse to leave church, find another church that you can worship in or go back to your church and consider the source when they start their picking. Life is too short to allow nit picking to steal your joy. Do like Jesus. Do the right thing toward others and move right along. You are listening for His applause not man’s.

Safe in His Hands

5:18 AM the phone was ringing. Les answered and I could hear G’s voice as she told her father she was okay but they had been in a bad wreck. Immediately I began to pray. They had rented a car and had a mechanic driving it as he ushered G and Z to look at a potential car to purchase. A drunk driver had hit them from behind crushing the trunk and moving it forward to the back seat where G had been seated. She was home and doing okay but had hurt her ribs and was soar all over. She had been thrown forward. Z had hurt his back and neck, but both were able to be at home. They are shaken, bruised, but doing okay. My heart sank as I listened to her describing the wreck, the injuries, the fears as everyone around them spoke another language, the comfort of the mechanic having been the driver, his minor injuries. Then the fears of what it would cost and how that would possibly prevent them from being able to get the car was just more than overwhelming. The part that hurt the most, “It just seems when we finally are making headway we are pushed back.” I wonder if that is how so many Apostles, disciples, and prophets of old felt. They worked so hard and then the enemy would send them a punch in the gut. Maybe they did not have car wrecks, but the enemy knew what would get to them as well. G’s last words to her daddy this morning were “tell mom not to freak out”. I was calm until this afternoon when I read G’s account on social media and saw the pictures. Then the tears flowed. She was so close to really being hurt in a major way. She could have been killed, broken something major or had a major head trauma. (I am thankful for that hard head) Z could have been thrown through the window, broken major bones or even knocked out teeth. instead they incurred “minor” bruises, and sore bodies. I wept thanking God for being gracious to us. I wept thinking of the many prayers that are constantly lifted to the Father on their behalf. His angels protect them today! I wept thinking how sorry I was I couldn’t be there to help. I wept because I was sad for them and the anxieties they had over the finances and what it would cost.
Then the call came from G. She had gotten a call from C, a lady in their organization here in the states. She is also a part of the home church that has sent them. She used words to love and encourage G and Z. She assured them that the church would cover any expenses they could not and that there was no need to be anxious or fearful. She told me of some friends who came by bringing chocolates and cola to ease the pain. She told me how her pastor’s wife had called to check on her and make sure she was okay. Again, I wept so hard I could not speak just thanking God for being there in so many tangible ways.
So I want to end this day thanking so many of you for lifting our kids up to the Father. I want to give HIM all of the praise and honor and glory for taking care of G and Z and Les and me. Being a parent of kids serving abroad isn’t for sissies. Grateful He is in control.

“Paul Like” Child

Philippians 1:12-20. Paul is a bible character I struggle with at times. He can be arrogant, short tempered and even male chauvinist at times. This passage is one of the reasons I continue to appreciate him though. Philippians 1:20 “For I fully expect and hope that I will never be ashamed, but that I will continue to be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past. And I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die.” God knew Paul would need to have each of the qualities I get frustrated with in him to allow him to be the man God wanted him to be. Through Paul’s many perseverances he still proclaimed the gospel message and as a result many where saved. Because of his writings even this many generations removed from his we are reading biblical truth and being saved.
In my own life with G there were days I was so frustrated with her I wanted to throw in the towel. She was head strong, frustrating, and always had to have the last word. I look at her today ministering in the 10/40 window where the most unreached people groups exist and know that God had made her that way too. He knew she would need those qualities and traits. He also knew that she too would look at life and death much like Paul. Living is good, but if more can be reached by death I count that an honor. I weep as I even write this, but I know that all of those days of frustration with her have been worth it because she and Z are having opportunity to share The Message with people who have never heard His name as the Son of God. Humbled, happy, sad, and contented I find myself grateful for the gift of being a mom to a “Paul like” child. To the Ends of the Earth….

Left at Church

Luke 2:41-52; Ephesians 4:17-24; Psalm 119:57-64; 1 Kings 12: Have you ever left your child at church? When parents miscommunicate it is easy to do. (speaking from experience) Jesus’ parents did the same thing. They thought Jesus was with family and friends as they departed from a celebration at the temple. They had gone a day’s journey before they even realized it. Now I can say I am not guilty of this. lol. It was three days before they found Him. Now I don’t know about you, but by then I would have wanted to kill him. 🙂 Instead He calmly tells them, “did you not know I would be about my Father’s business.” For Mary and Joseph that must have been a reality check. I wonder how Jesus first understood who His Father was. I wonder how Mary and Joseph encouraged Him in His faith. Did they have to get Him a scroll to read early? Did they leave Him at the local temple frequently? What should really amaze me should be that when they did find Him the religious leaders were listening to Him. For men to listen to a child He must have been impressive in His knowledge and understanding.
Jesus, would You teach me today through the Holy Spirit to know You better and to follow You more closely. Help me not leave You behind when I go about my daily life. I love You Lord.

One Step

Luke 2:21-40; Ephesians 4:1-16; Psalm 119:49-56; 1 Kings 11: I don’t know about you but I always get to this point in Solomon’s story and wish I had left him at the opening of the temple. That was such a high mark in his life. He was seeking to please God only and Israel was prospering because of his obedience. Then we get to today’s reading and my heart is breaking because he allowed the gods of the women he loved to lead him astray. I am sure it was innocent at first. He was just trying to make them happy. He started his disobedience when he married multiple women from foreign countries. God had told him not to. The he tried to please them by building altars to their gods. It was just another step away until he was the one worshiping with them at pagan altars.
Maybe my great frustration is because I know that I too can be easily led astray. It is just a one step at a time and one step away process and then we find ourselves far away from God and doing what seems right in our own eyes instead of walking in obedience to God. The end result is that it hurts us and others. Solomon started Israel down a path that would lead far from God. The word to us is check your steps. Are they leading you closer to God or farther away. Follow His commands and find life and freedom. What a wonderful reminder to me.

Unconditional Love!

1 Kings 6, 7: Anybody out there need a “do over”? You know you start okay and things are going well then somewhere along the path you veer too far one direction or the other and just start getting further and further away from where you know you need to be. It is not a huge step at first, it is just letting the little things slide, then before you know it you are embarrassed to admit you are far away and your pride may even get in the way of admitting your current status. I think Solomon knew that Israel would need a “do over”. In his prayer in 1 Kings he is asking God to restore and renew His relationship with Israel when they come to the realization of how far they are away from God’s plan and ask Him to make them right with Him again. You know it is not just for the days of old, but it is for us today as well. So you are not where you want to be. Here is how you can be. Admit where you are and ask God to forgive you and bring you close again. Just like that He forgives a repentant heart and restores them with love to the right path. Will there still be scars, possibly, but God loves us scars and all. His love is not conditional. His love is eternal.

Joy in Sorrow

Luke 1:57-66; Ephesians 2:11-22; Psalm 119:25-32; 1 Kings 6, 7:
Psalm 119:28 “I weep with sorrow;
encourage me by your word.”
Over the last few days we have had a couple of friends to die and a few family members of dear friends. This verse became my prayer for the families of those who have said “Until we meet again in Heaven.” We know they are with the Father because they had accepted the Lord, but it is still hard and tears still flow. We will miss them, BUT they are at the feet of Jesus. The Word of God reminds us of where they really are. Are find great encouragement and strength by staying in His word. When our hearts are breaking it is always good to be grounded in the Truth of God word!
To those of you who are grieving today, I encourage you to go and listen to an old song, but one that will encourage you as well. I listened to it yesterday and just wept. The song is “I Bow on my Knees and Cry Holy”. It speaks of everyone our loved ones are seeing in heaven. They see the prophets of old and those who were disciples, but the ONE they long to see they finally do see and all they can do is bow and cry Holy. Oh sweet friends, they are in the presence of The One they love!
Absent from the body, present with The Lord! Glory!

What Do You Believe?

“Do you believe heaven is real? Do you believe hell is real? If so, why aren’t we more willing to share our faith.” That is one of the things Mark Cahill said yesterday as he preached. If we really believe that each of us will go to one place or the other then we must be about sharing our faith in Jesus Christ. As I read this morning in Matthew 24:30 “And then at last, the sign that the Son of Man is coming will appear in the heavens, and there will be deep mourning among all the peoples of the earth. And they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31And he will send out his angels with the mighty blast of a trumpet, and they will gather his chosen ones from all over the world—from the farthest ends of the earth and heaven.” I was thinking about the mourning that will come that day. So many will know for sure then that Jesus really is and was the Son of God but for them it will be too late. My heart grieves to think about the many who will go to hell because they have not believed in the one and only Son of God. Oh Father, give me an urgency to tell. Give us a realistic understanding that those we know who do not know you will spend eternity in a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth. Please forgive me for my complacency and help me be moved to action as I share the hope I have in You.

When I am Afraid

Psalm 56: Fear is a huge weapon Satan uses on us. We fear many things, loss of family, jobs, homes, possessions. The list goes on and on. We fear because we can’t control. It affects our health, our ability to function, and even how deep our relationships become because it is rare to open one’s self up if we fear we will hurt through the experience. How do we overcome? That is a great question. The Sunday school answer is Jesus. lol, and deep down that is correct, but what does that look like in our lives? It begins with turning over the reigns of control to the One we know can control all things. God is the creator of all things. He holds them all together. He can be trusted even when we don’t understand all we are going through. We walk by faith not by sight. Knowing He is in control we can follow His instruction and know He has tomorrow in control. It may not be exactly as we had hoped but we know He loves us and is for our good. He sees tomorrow and directs our paths in the right way. Knowing these things we can have confidence and live in peace on the inside and out. His plans are bigger that we can dream or imagine. Ephesians 3:20 reminds us.
On days when I am tempted to be anxious and overwhelmed I run back to some of the verses we read today.
Psalm 56:3″But when I am afraid,
I will put my trust in you.
4I praise God for what he has promised.
I trust in God, so why should I be afraid?
What can mere mortals do to me?”
If you are experiencing fear today these would be great verses to write on a card and place it where you will see it often. For me, I have been ministered to even as I have written these reminders of why I can trust Him. May you be encouraged too.

What are you trusting in?

Acts 27:27-44 It is amazing to me how much credibility and respect Paul had with the commander of the ship. Paul was a prisoner on his way to be tried and yet the captain of the ship he was sailing on listened to him when he told them if the sailors left in life boats they would die. The captain cut the ropes to the life boats keeping all on the ship. I wonder how the sailors felt about the preacher? Did they resent him? Did they trust him? The next morning when they could see the beach they tried to make a landing, but were caught on a reef. I love how the scripture said 42″the soldiers wanted to kill the prisoners to make sure they didn’t swim ashore and escape. 43But the commanding officer wanted to spare Paul, so he didn’t let them carry out their plan. Then he ordered all who could swim to jump overboard first and make for land.” The commander wanted to save Paul…Do you think maybe the preaching of the gospel had changed the captain? Do you think his new found respect was because God was stirring his heart? We aren’t told why he had such great respect, but we are told in the last verse, 44 “So everyone escaped safely to shore.”
Their safety was dependent upon their trust not in Paul, but in God. Wow, isn’t it the same with us. We may not be on a sinking ship, but our lives are definitely in stormy waters many days. Who are you trusting during your storms of life? Are you trying to get into the life boat of a secure job, your possessions or money, or even in a relationship? The only way to be saved is to put your trust in the Father. Listen for His leadership in your life and know though the waters may get rough, you will be saved.