and the One who walks with me on it.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Make the Call

       Although I love talking to my friends in any form including the telephone, I actually avoid talking on the contraption any other time.  It isn’t my favorite thing to do; so often I procrastinate in getting done the tasks that involve the phone.  Still, it is a convenient device to have in one’s home, and when you go without it for a few days you realize just how important it is. 

       We call our friends to talk to them, call buddies to arrange a time to get together,  call our kids to come to supper, call hello to friends and neighbours, call out cheers to players on teams, phone call to arrange things, ask for help, find out information, order food, make connections, order supplies and on and on.  Sometimes there are even emergency phone calls in the middle of the night or unexpected calls from friends who just want to know you are all right.

       All these calls we do in our lives are important so we make sure to get them done.  But… do we remember to call on the Lord?

       Where the word call is used in the scriptures, it means a mix of cry unto, invoke (to address in prayer; to call on for assistance and protection-Webster), address, call on and invite.  Once we have ‘called’ on the Lord to be saved (Acts ) it doesn’t end there.  We are supposed to call on Him for help (2 Sam. 22:4), call for His forgiveness and mercy (Ps. 86:5), and call when we’re in trouble. (Ps. 86:7)

       So, what are the benefits to calling on the Lord?  He will hear the godly (Ps. 4:3), He will answer us (Ps. 86:7), He will be with us in trouble, deliver us and honour us (Ps. 91:15), He will show us great and might things which we don’t know. (Jer. 33:3).  Given all that I heartily agree with the Bible when it says, “Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near:” (Is. 55:6) 

       The great thing is the Lord wants to call us back.  He calls us to salvation (Acts ), then He calls us friends. (John 15:15)  He spoke to Adam and Eve in the garden (Gen. 3:8 on) and made contact with Samuel as a boy (1 Sam. 3:8-14).  Not much has changed today; He still wants to talk to us.  Jesus says, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:” (John ) As His sheep, we need to know His voice above others or we may end up following the butcher instead of our Shepherd.  Call upon Him, and then listen as He responds.

So, lets all ‘pick up the phone’ and talk to the Lord today.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

It’s not what she said, but what I saw…

       We sat facing each other during our break and since we were alone, the conversation had turned personal.  She told me of many trials she had endured, and then about finding her uncle washed up on shore.  I sat flabbergast, not because of the horror in seeing a loved one dead that way, or knowing all the pain she had been through, but that as she described it all there was such a peaceful demeanor about her.  In the midst of a dreadful trial myself I could not imagine ever reaching a place where God’s peace would be so apparent on my face.

       All I could think of is how much I wanted what she had but at the time it seemed like I would never find peace again.  It was a very lonely time and only a handful of people understood a small part of the trauma we were going through.  How often I wished for a hug; for someone to put their arms around me and say, “I love you.”  How valuable it would have been to have one person hold my hands and say, “I will stand by you no matter what.”  How much I needed to feel that squeeze on my shoulder with the words, “I’m so sorry you are going through this.”

       Comfort, oh, comfort my people, says your God. (Is. 40:1 TLB)  During a time of great tribulation in Israel the Father tells His prophet* to comfort His children.  Certainly there are times and places God confronts sin and warns His people through His prophets, but here He wants some encouragement to help set hope in front of His people’s eyes once again.  He wants to bring them comfort in their distress.

       Comfort, oh comfort my people, says your God.  We never really know what any one person is going through at a particular time, so as we meet people at work, at church, in school or any other place, it’s always a good idea to remember they just might be having the worst day of their lives, and a word or touch can bring them comfort and encourage them to keep on walking the journey.  God’s comfort is forever available to us, but He also expects that we will show His love through our actions toward others.** 

Comfort, oh comfort my people, says your God.

*1Co 14:3- But one who prophesies strengthens others, encourages them, and comforts them.
**2Co 1:3,4- …God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort.  He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.  NLT
also (1 Th. ; 2 Cor. )

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Always Moving

       This universe repeatedly amazes me; its intricacy and the uniqueness of all its components boggle my mind.  Life is always moving around us in the people, plants, animals; in ourselves, our many body systems and cells; in the earth, its plates, the air, water flowing; in space orbiting, spinning, expanding and contracting.  What incredible complexity the Creator has produced.

       Lately it seems there are a lot of changes happening inside of me; I’m sure others aren’t noticing it nearly as much as I do, but it seems to be a continual thing.  I guess that’s good because I’m so far from perfect that there are a lot of changes that need to be done!

       It has always been my belief that the two greatest abilities of man are to learn and change.  From the day we are born to the day we die we continue to learn more and more.  How do you know not to touch a hot burner?  At some point you learned from someone else (hopefully) or by first hand experience (ouch!).  So that knowledge caused a change in you as you are no doubt careful around hot burners. 

       Now, my mother would say, “I’m too old to change…” but the truth is we are never too old to change, just too old to want or choose to change.  Occasionally after an incident occurs in our lives, negative changes may occur, but at the same time we also undergo improvements.  No two people enduring the same experience will come out of it the same on the other side.  And so like life all around us, we are constantly moving, learning and changing.

       Sometimes we don’t want to change and when that happens but we know we need to, then is the time to pray like this, "Lord, I don’t really want to change this, but I want to want to change this.  Please help me to want to change."  Yes, I have first hand experience that a prayer like this works.  At one time I could care less if my house was ever clean, so I often prayed it.  I may never be a ‘neat freak’ now, but overall I want the house to be reasonably clean most of the time.  If you aren’t moving forward, you’re going to fall back.

        The Serenity Prayer includes the "courage to change the things I can" and so we should try to continue to change for the better all the days of our lives and pray for God’s assistance in our attempt while allowing Him to change us too; and He will, especially as we spend quality time with Him.* Truly, I have found the biggest, best and most enduring changes in my life have been those changes the Lord has done in me. I’m so glad I’m not the person I used to be!  Thank You Lord!  I choose to move to improve.

*2 Cor. -18- But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.
Rom. 12:2- Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.  NLT

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

We All Cast Shadows

       It’s been so long since I could just look out a window on a sunny day, that I forgot how beautiful I find the trees.  I stood there admiring their strength and dignity even without their green leaves as clothes.  Then my attention was caught by the shadows cast to the northeast.  Immediately my mind pondered that at times I cast shadows on the people around me.  It’s not something I intend to do, but it happens.  In my imperfections I occasionally hurt or offend another person.

       I’ve been hurt myself, and I know my first response is to retreat, ‘lick my wounds’ and sometimes throw myself a pity party. (I’ve never been much at confrontation…)  Eventually I figured out that this reaction was not only unhealthy, but un-Biblical.  According to Matt. 18:15, we should deal with any offense properly so we don’t continue to hold a grudge.* 

       One time I brought pies to a church dinner.  They did not turn out perfectly, but I brought them anyway.  The lady serving them didn’t even bother cutting them properly so the bottom crust was left in the pie plate.  While some people might not have cared, for me it upset me deeply because it took great effort for me to even bring food I had cooked.  (I have never been good at cooking)  The lady didn’t even know she had hurt me, so I calmed myself, put on my big girl pants, and at an appropriate time went up to calmly tell her I was hurt by her actions.  It was very intimidating as I was uncertain how she would respond to this information.  She was remorseful and it was quickly forgiven.

       So, what about the shadows we cast?  Should we walk our journey constantly worried we have hurt someone?  That’s not what I’m thinking at all because that would be unhealthy as well, but if we know we have injured someone, we should deal with it quickly by going to them and making it right. (Matt. 5:23-25)^  Jesus said we are to love one another. (John. , 35) and not hate them in our hearts but deal with it. (Lev. )

       We should never intentionally offend anyone.**  (Rom. ; 1 Cor. 8:13)  If you notice someone seems troubled or in a bad mood after being with you, or if you feel in the Spirit they are upset, you can go to them privately and ask if you hurt them.  Either they will say yes and you can properly deal with it^, or they will say no in which case there is not much you can do.  If they continue to be cold toward you, you may need to go further to clear it up.  Don’t be afraid to do so, but even if you are nervous or afraid, just pray, put on your big girl/boy pants and do it anyway!

       And if a person confronts you with their hurt, try to deal with it confidentially, and don’t have the attitude that what you said or did should be no big deal, because to them it was.  (Pr. 16:18)  Remember how you want to be treated.  If love is the guiding principle then the objective is to restore the relationship.  (Gal. 6:1)

Matthew Henry in his commentary stated, “If thou hast conceived a displeasure at thy brother for any injury he hath done thee, do not suffer thy resentments to ripen into a secret malice (like a wound, which is most dangerous when it bleed inwardly), but give vent to them in a mild and grave admonition…” (Matt. 18:15)  In other words, don’t let wounds fester or it will cause infection and possibly death in the body.  When a shadow has been cast, lets deal with it in God’s love and humility to bring restoration.

*Matt. 18:15- Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.  KJV
**Matt. 18:7- but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!  KJV
^(talk it through, apologize, ask forgiveness, don’t do it again)

Pleasing Self or God?

2 Cor. 5:9- Wherefore we labour, strive, aim, are ambitious, no matter here or elsewhere, to be well-pleasing, accepted of/ to him.  (A mix of TLB, ASV, KJV, YLT)

       This verse made me ponder how we, as the body of Christ are doing in regards to pleasing the Lord?  I mean, do we even consider it at any point of our day?  Perhaps as I yell at my kids to get ready for school I am pleasing Him.  Or when I drive my son to school and that SUV cuts me off, surely the first words out of my mouth are acceptable to Him. 

       Would Jesus approve of my thoughts: when I get stuck waiting at Timmies because the person being served is digging for change, or when I walk into work, the boss is on a rampage and my co-worker made me look bad to my fellow workers?  Is He pleased as I avoid that senior who needs help because I really need my lunch now or that I park in that no parking zone because I don’t have time to walk from further out?

       As I gave a cold shoulder to my husband when I came home, and I ignored the kids because I needed to rest alone, was the Lord happy?  Was His heart thrilled when I complained about the mess, the dishes, my work, the government, my family and the neighbour’s dog pooping on my yard?  While I vegged in front of the t.v. watching adultery, lying, deceiving, murder, perversion, sexual innuendo, did I make Him glad and later as I listened to those songs that had everything to do with loving the world, money, being famous, having it all, being all sexy, following my heart no matter where it takes me, do I think He was pleased?

Do we, as His children, ever think about any of this?

       I will not judge any man for their sin because I’m too busy noticing mine, but we are not supposed to be like the world.  If we:
-look like the world (ex. dress for sexual appeal, care more about appearance than our heart),
-talk like the world (ex. complain, gossip, tear down, swear, tell inappropriate jokes),
-walk like the world (ex. party, drink, sex before marriage, look at porn, laugh at improper humour),
-think like the world (ex. philosophy, morals, values, ethics, beliefs)
then it follows that we are the world.  But this is not pleasing to God; we are to be in the world but not of it.* 

       So, how do we stop this tendency we have to be like the world?  One step at a time, asking ourselves if Jesus were right beside me would I be doing, watching, saying, and listening to this?  Would it please Him?  Oh, but hey, I want to enjoy life, so why can’t I do the precise things I take pleasure in? 

I can do anything I want, but...
If I’ve truly given my life to the Lord, repented and am trying to live for Him**, perhaps I should question why it is I take pleasure in these particular things…

*Rom 12:2  And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.  KJV
**2 Cor.5:15- He died for all so that all who live- having received eternal life from him- might live no longer for themselves, to please themselves, but to spend their lives pleasing Christ who died and rose again for them. TLB