and the One who walks with me on it.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Old Photos

       It’s a pile of old photos that I’ve never fixed.  They used to be in one of those books with adhesive strips that would ultimately ruin the photo, so I took them out but never bought a book to put them back into.  They’re my past, mostly things I don’t even remember and pictures I took from other people that I should remember, but don’t.

       Some of the photos make me smile and wish I were back in the simpler times where responsibilities weren’t so extensive.  Other photos make me cry in regret for what never was but should have been and the sadness of lost love.  Although looking back for a few minutes to your life is not always a negative thing, there are at least three times when looking back was not a good thing in the Bible.

       First, there was Lot’s wife who looked (regard with pleasure, favor, and care Gen. 19:26) back on her comfortable, pleasurable life and was turned into a pillar of salt when she could have been saved from judgment.  Second, there were the children of Israel out in the desert looking back, many times, and saying they were better off in Egypt. (Ex. 14:12; 16:3; 17:3 Num. 11:18-20; 14:2)  All it really got them was judgment and death from a variety of problems.

       Jesus talked to three men in the scriptures and asked them to follow Him. (Luke 9:57-61)  They were not willing to give up their ordinary but comfortable lives to follow Him and so they gave excuses of things they need to finish first.  They were looking to their recent pasts.  Jesus said, “No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.(v.62)  Their looking back made them unfit.  In contrast, the ‘apostles’ were not recorded to make excuses, but just followed Jesus when He asked.

       Perhaps you look back and long for the move of the Spirit like in the past or those glorious days of old- or you look back remembering all the sinful and bad things you did which ‘make you unworthy’ to be one with God- or maybe you just wish for the simplicity of your old ordinary but comfortable life. No matter the reason, looking back will cause you to be unable to be who God wants you to be.  Paul said, “…this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Php. 3:13,14

       Press forward today for the high calling.  Don’t settle for less than best.  Fresh manna is available today and everyday.  Don’t settle for stale bread of yesterday, but look to the Father for fresh Word, living Word (quick=living, Heb. ) everyday.  Don’t look to the miracles and answered prayers of yesterday, but press for the miracles and answered prayers of today and tomorrow.  Our God who has done these things in the past will surely continue to show His
                     great glory through His power in our lives- when we press forward.

Friday, January 06, 2012

Orpah and Ruth

       Today I saw a fresh parallel in the story of Ruth.  Here we have two sisters in law both of whom lost husbands at young ages.  (In those days the women were absorbed into their new family and its beliefs and lives.)  They both loved their mother in law dearly and when she decided to return to her own land, they wanted to go with her.  She encouraged them to go back to their families in Moab and start new lives.  Notice the differences after Naomi’s second suggestion they return to their old lives.

And Naomi said unto her two daughters in law, Go, return each to her mother's house…
And they said unto her, Surely we will return with thee unto thy people. And Naomi said, Turn again, my daughters: why will ye go with me? …
And they lifted up their voice, and wept again: and Orpah kissed her mother in law; but Ruth clave unto her. And she said, Behold, thy sister in law is gone back unto her people, and unto her gods: return thou after thy sister in law. And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the LORD do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me. When she saw that she was stedfastly minded to go with her, then she left speaking unto her. Ruth 1:8-18

       Orpah kisses Naomi and goes back to her past family.  It is interesting to note that a kiss can be anything from a peck on the cheek to a full tongue experience thus indicating a variety of emotion depending on the kiss.  Judas even used a kiss to betray our Lord, so a kiss is not clearly indicative of a person’s state of emotion.  Orpah loved Naomi, but was still able to leave her and return to her old life.

       Ruth clave or clung to Naomi.  Unlike kissing, clinging to a person means strong love, trust, and desire to remain with them no matter what.  When Naomi tried to get Ruth to follow after Orpah, Ruth clarified her position and told Naomi to stop telling her to leave:
   -where you go I will go
   -where you stay I will stay
   -your people will be my people
   -your God will be my God
   -where you die I will die and be buried                       
   -only death will part us

       Ruth desired to be with Naomi more than she wanted her old life or a new life without her.  She would follow her completely with childlike trust.  Ruth not only accepted a new life in a different land and people (and obeyed Naomi willingly despite her own personal preferences) but would let nothing separate her from Naomi, only death.  Does this story not parallel our own adoption/ absorption into the family of God?  So the real question is…

Are you like Orpah or Ruth?

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Why God?

       I’ll try and simplify my thoughts this third attempt at writing this post.  I’ve lived a life without God* and it was unsatisfying in more ways than I can state.  One of the major problems was that no matter how many relatives or friends I had, I always felt alone and unloved.  That was not a life worth living.

       After I found the Lord, I no longer felt alone or unloved and I began to enjoy life.  Though I loved Him, eventually I realized I was still trying to control my own life, living it my way with Him allowed in where and when I wanted.  It was basically a selfish relationship on my part, on my terms.  It was no wonder that life remained a struggle in every trial as I would run from Him instead of to Him, never giving my life fully to Him.  Life was a variety of highs and lows, peace and troubles.

       It has only been in this decade that I surrendered my life to God the way I needed to, though I dare not say fully because (by past experience) I realize there is always more of me to yield.  In this place of surrender to God I have found true peace and true joy which no trial, trouble, suffering or arrow of the enemy can take away.  Many problems still occur, but my view of them is obscured in my precious Love and only in Him is life abundant (John ) as it should be.  In other words, with and in Him I ‘feel’ more alive and new and exciting things happen in unexpected and wonderful ways.

       Neither way of living- without God or only partially with/ in Him- are acceptable to me anymore.  It’s all or nothing for me.  Though I am fully satisfied with God, I am never satisfied to remain stagnant in our relationship.  I always want it to be improved: a consumed life.  I have never felt so alive, so aware of the amazing creation around me and the incredible variety of human life flowing by me daily, and knowing so much love.

       It isn’t really a one sided relationship anymore, though you’d have to ask the Lord what He gets out of it from me- so frail a human.  He has more of my time now, not because I should as a Christian, nor because I have to in order to survive, but because I want to and I miss Him when I don’t spend enough time with Him.  He is my everything and my all.  So, why God?  In my opinion it is because life is not abundant life without (fully being in) Him.

* (God the Father, God the Son or Jesus Christ, and God the Holy Spirit)

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

January 3, 1995

       It was seventeen years ago yesterday that I lost my father: he was 67 and I was soon to turn 28.  His name was John and though I lived at home until I was 19ish, I really didn’t know him very well.  Most of my life he worked more hours than I remember him being at home (3 jobs will do that) and we did not take family vacations.  As a result I didn’t know many stories about him until he was sick near the end of his life.

       He told me a few of the stories.  One time they left a groom tied to a chair in the middle of the road with only a flashlight to shine for protection the night before his wedding. There was an interesting story of how he had to fix the communication tower for the police and the unaware police misunderstanding him running into the station carrying his toolbox.  As a teacher he taught drivers ed. and would pretend to be asleep while the students drove so they would be more comfortable!  Those are really the only stories I remember him telling me.

       The story that makes me sad although it was a funny story came from a man I worked with in my twenties.  He was a student where my dad taught high school, specifically tech courses.  When he found out who my dad was, I could see genuine respect and care for this man he knew only as his teacher.  He told me about a time when my dad rigged the chairs of the students to give them small electrical shocks when they misbehaved, and they thought it was hysterical.  It made me sad to think this man knew something about my dad that I didn’t.

       How heartbreaking to think that I didn’t really know my dad and that I have very few memories of him.  Of course my only regret is not having spent time with him to know him better.  Now my only Father is the One in heaven (Mat. 6:9) and I don’t want any regrets with Him while I live or when I die.  So I will spend the time with Him getting to know Him better and making memories while we are together.  And though He already knows everything He can about me, I know He cherishes every moment we have together.

He’s my Father, and He loves me.

Monday, January 02, 2012

New Years Resolutions

       Most of the resolutions that I heard are people saying they would become healthier which implies better diets, working out and taking care of oneself.  The rest of the resolutions were about believing or improving ones mental health.  Altogether, I did not hear one person say they wanted to restore/ work on relationships or improve their character.  No one said they wanted to help more people or do more for others.  Our human nature is selfish and we think of ourselves first so it doesn’t surprise me that almost all resolutions are self motivated.

       There is nothing wrong with improving ourselves; the problem comes in when it is our main focus or reason for doing anything.  Are we going to church to improve ourselves (ex: “I got a lot out of the service today Pastor…”) or to worship our Lord and learn to obey Him more?  Are we serving in ministry to advance our reputation or praying longer prayers to develop a rep for spirituality?  Are we trying to be healthier simply so we can look/ feel better or are we doing it because we are God’s temple and He wants us to be holy?

Would you consider making these resolutions?

I will love the Lord more by spending more time with Him every day,
   -reading my Bible, worshipping and praying.
I will love all humans even if they live alternate lifestyles to what I do.
I will obey all the laws of this country- including speed limits.
I will share my financial blessings daily with those who aren’t so privileged.
I will encourage five people everyday even when I don’t ‘feel’ like it.
I will love my spouse and children in ways they need to feel loved.
I will sit with the homeless, the prostitutes and criminals,
   -sharing Christ’s love through my time, care and kindness toward them.
I will open my eyes to see the hurt and struggles of others and do something to relieve them.
I will think more of others and less of myself.

Jesus did that, didn’t He?!?!

Jesus said, “The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.”
Luke ,19 NKJ

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Just a Thought on Christmas Time


      We have just finished our longest ‘Christian’ holiday season, the celebration of Jesus, our salvation,  being born in the flesh- Emmanuel: 'God with us'- to live and die for our sins.  This is our Christmas time- a time to rejoice in our Savior.  As the Bible says, “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:” Ecc. 3:1 

Here is my pondering on the Christmas season and time…

Time decorating the house for the season = about 6 hours.
     (Thank you Lord for shelter and an abundant income we can even spend on non-necessities)

Time working at job = 32 hours plus (for those working)
     (Thank you Lord for every job and paycheck since all good things come from You)

Time buying gifts and food for gatherings = 4 hours.
     (Thank you Lord for all the abundance you have given us to share)

Time spent in health care offices & tests = about 30 hours.
     (Thank you Lord for the health care we enjoy in Canada)

Time driving to buy gifts, go to appointments, gatherings = 7 hours.
     (Thank you Lord for a working vehicle and the finances to keep it going)

Time wrapping gifts = 1 hour.
     (Thank you Lord that my hands can do detailed tasks)

Time making homemade ornaments to exchange = [should have been] 4 hours.
     (Thank you Lord for the creativity you have given to me)

Time cleaning the house for guests = 30 hours plus.
     (Thank you Lord for the strength, health and products to do the job)

Time preparing food for gatherings = about 5 hours.
     (Thank you Lord for providing food and drink for us to share)

Time eating and overindulging with food and drink = 6 hours plus.
     (You have truly blessed us Lord!)

Time sleeping = 50 hours plus.
     (Thank you Lord for a comfortable bed to sleep in and the ability to breathe through the night)

Time spent in church services and serving = 4 hours
     (Thank you Lord for the ability to believe as we wish and gather freely to worship You)

Time opening gifts, stockings = 1 ½ hours.
     (Thank you Lord for all the blessings you give us)

Time reading, online, relaxing in front of t.v. or video games = 28 hours plus.
     (Lord, thanks for the extras you give us in life)

Time visiting with family and friends = 14 hours plus.
     (Thank you Lord for the relatives you’ve given and the friends you’ve brought into our lives)

Time spend with the Lord this season = ?