and the One who walks with me on it.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

What Good Can Come of Suffering?

       Mankind suffers all the time.  We suffer due to the curse originated by Adam and Eve.  We suffer because of the actions of the devil and his co-workers.  We suffer due to the choices we make and their repercussions.  We suffer because of economic and political issues.  There is a lot of suffering, sometimes without good times interspersed to make this life feel worthwhile.  Life is tough and can throw curveballs at us at unexpected times.  But for all the grief we endure, there are good things that can come of the suffering.
...the Devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking someone he may devour... knowing that the same afflictions in the world are being completed in your brotherhood. But the God of all grace, He calling us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a little, He will perfect, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.  1 Pt. 5:8-10
       So, after we have gone suffered a little (-almost, briefly*, little, long, season, a while), God will perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish us.  Reading the other meanings for these words opens up different perspectives.  Before I list them, I'd just like to say that we usually consider the word perfect from man's idea of it's definition, meaning without flaw, while the Bible gives a different view.
       Perfect- complete thoroughly, repair, adjust, restore
       Confirm- set fast, make stable, render constant
       Strengthen- make strong
       Establish- lay the foundation, found, make stable, establish, settle
       Look at the benefits that can come after the suffering that affects us all.  Honestly, I wish God would let believers out of it, but in reality, I know some greatest transformations in my life came after great adversity.  Rom. 5:1-5 puts this order to suffering and it's benefits: afflictions, patience, experience, hope.  So our afflictions teach us endurance, improved character, and increases our faith and hope- and those are good things!
       We might not like passages such as these, but they should bring us hope that good can come out of the tough times too.  Some of the 'greatest' men and women of all times were living in adverse conditions, yet they rose above it to change nations- and the world.  We too can benefit the world with our transformed lives 'born on the backs' of our suffering.
*considering our lives are, by eternity's standard, brief and quickly fading, (Jm. 4:14; Is. 40:7,8) this meaning doesn't encourage me much!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Wear a Visible Cross, Lose Your Job…

(In the News- Toronto Sun)

MONTREAL — Deep divisions emerged Tuesday as Quebec introduced a bill that would bar "conspicuous" religious symbols among civil servants.  The Parti Quebecois said its bill would entrench "religious neutrality" in the provincial charter of rights.

Islamic headscarves, crucifixes, Sikh turbans and Jewish skullcaps would be banned if they are "plainly visible." "Smaller" religious symbols would be permitted.  No one would be allowed to offer government services with their faces covered, a reference to the Islamic burka and niqab.  Quebec would also end its practice of allowing employees to take paid leave for religious reasons.

"It's a very good day for Quebec," Bernard Drainville, the minister in charge of the file, told a news conference.  "It's time to rally around clear rules and shared values" "that will put an end to the tensions and misunderstandings."  Polls indicate a majority of French Quebecers support restrictions on religious symbols while English and minority groups are largely against the measures.  The proposed law would apply to all government departments as well as daycares, schools, hospitals and police forces.

       While I don’t feel that some head/ face coverings are appropriate for some jobs or sports, I think going against Canada’s right of religious freedom in this country would set a BAD precedent.  We should be free to have a Budda, a cross, a star of David, an all seeing eye, or a ying yang around our necks, visible, if we want to.  If Quebec is allowed to pass this law, which of our freedoms will go next?
When the righteous increase, the people rejoice; but when the wicked rule, the people mourn. Pr. 29:2

And Peter and the apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men. Ac. 5:29

         Look at some of those who opposed unjust laws in our recent past, and whom we admire, Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela. There are many instances of believers in Jehovah standing up for their convictions against current laws.  Here are some:
       -Midwives save babies instead of killing them. Ex. 1:15-17
       -Moses harassed Pharaoh to let the people go. Ex. 5- 13
       -Rahab protecting spies. Js. 2:3-15                 
       -Saul’s servants refuse to kill priest. 1Sm. 22:16,17
       -Three men refusing to bow to an idol. Dn. 3
       -Daniel praying visibly as usual. Dn. 6:10-16
       -Too many prophets to list spoke out against sin in government.
       -John the Baptist criticized the king’s moral character. Mr. 6:17,18
       -Paul, Peter and other believers refused to stop preaching the gospel.

       I’m not espousing we rise up for every occasion, but we are to stand for God, righteousness and justice.  We should submit when laws are just.  We should pray for our government continually.  But there are times we need to stand against what is wrong.  Each person in position that could lose their job should decide for themselves, but everyone else should definitely stand against this law and any law that takes away our rights.
Lord, You say to believers many times “do not fear” - “be of good courage”.  Give us Your strength to stand against corruption, unrighteousness and injustice in these, the last days.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Running Away and Hiding

      This is personal, and well, not anything I’m proud of- but let my type this out in hopes of understanding myself better.  Since I was young, when things I didn’t like would happen, I would run away and hide from everyone.  As an adult, I still did a lot of that, and yesterday I realized it is happening since September started.
       Unlike when I was young and would physically hide where no one could find me, now I hide in plain site, but it is the emotional or mental part of me that hides in books (not the Bible of course), brain puzzles, tv, computers, eating junk and doing menial tasks.  None of those things are bad in and of themselves, but when they consume large quantities of time, that is avoidance of, well, I’m not sure what yet.
       So here I am to force myself to think about what it is I am running from these days.  I’m going to list my ideas of what it could be and then sort through them one at a time.  Hopefully if I figure out why, I can figure out what to do about it.  I might be hiding from:
        -God’s future plan for me that seems bigger than I can handle.
               No.  Have accepted it now and know it will only be in His strength anyway.
        -The struggles and stresses of home and raising older teens.
               Maybe.  This is pretty big right now.
        -The pain I feel whenever I look at all the bad things happening around me.
               Probably.  Was crying again today about it as I drove home.  Sorrow and anger.
        -All the driving around- coming and going daily.
              Doubtful as the driving is not quite so intensive.
        -Seeing Christians in so much bondage, pain, sorrow, and continual difficulties.
               Probably.  More sorrow and anger.  Grieving in my spirit.
        -Dealing with unhealed physical pain.
                Don’t think so.  Used to it for the most part.  God will get me through.
        -God delaying His end time move.
               Yep, a little.  Disappointment.  Wanna be home with Him.  This is not our home!
               Wanna see his power displayed in the earth again.
        -Depression over one to all of the above.
               Probably, somewhat.
       (10 min later) Okay, well that was fun… NOT!  Since you weren’t here I’ll let you know I was just attacked by the enemy.  Sudden pain in my head so I had to stop and pray- gone now, thanks to You Lord!  Guess when you are hiding and not in the Word very much, the enemy might find a way to attack.
(8 hours later...)
       Okay, I realized what it was then fell apart a little and have been avoiding this post since then.  Yep, pretty immature.  I should be better at this after 30 years...  Anyway, I know that the issue is an unwillingness to admit to mild anger at the Lord for not working on my preferred time table to move in His power (yes I do know that's arrogant thinking...)  I thought my anger issue towards the Lord was resolved, but I guess not.  I’m just so tired of seeing all the hurting people, Christians or not.  So, where to go from here?
       First off, go back to the foot of the cross and throw myself on His mercy (1) while acknowledging that He is good (2) and knows best (3).  Get more fully into the Word again and find comfort there (4). Then I need to find a friend I can consistently speak to (5) because that hasn’t been happening lately. 
     1. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hb. 4:16
     2. Oh give thanks to Jehovah; for He is good; for His mercy endures forever. Ps. 136:1
     3. Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! Rm. 11:33 ESV
     4. Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. Jh. 14:27
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction… 2Cr. 1:3,4
     5. Bear one another's burdens (weight, load), and so fulfill the law of Christ. Gl. 6:2
Lord Almighty, thank You for Your great patience with me. Forgive my anger toward You. It is my problem not Your fault.  Help me trust more fully in You.  Thank You for Your love… in all our lives!

Monday, September 09, 2013

Why I Like Mator

       In my opinion, the world would be a better place if we were all like Mator, my favorite character in the movie Cars.  "My name's Mater... Yeah, like tuh-mater, but without the tuh."  He’s the owner of "Tow Mater Towing and Salvage" in Radiator Springs.  If you haven’t seen it, you should because there’s a great storyline to it. 
       Anyway, Mator is an old, beat up tow truck that befriends the arrogant race car, Lightning McQueen.  Mator isn’t much to look at; he has big, buck teeth, lots of rust, a missing headlight and hood, and can’t drive very fast.  He’s also okay with who he is, thinks the best of others- always willing to give them a chance, is humble, funny and fun, is kind, loving, lives honestly and is a very good friend.  We Christians could learn a thing or two from him!
     Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1Cr. 13:7 ESV
     13 times in NT “love one another” stresses it’s importance. (Jh. 13:34; 15:12,17; Rm.
     13:8; 1Th. 4:9; 1Pt. 1:22; 1Jh. 3:11,23; 1Jh. 4:7,11,12; 2Jh. 1:5)
     …not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think… Rm. 12:3
     …a man has no better thing under the sun than to eat and to drink and to be glad… Ec. 8:15
     A merry heart does good like a medicine… Pr. 17:22
     And be kind to one another, tenderhearted… Ep. 4:32
     A friend loves at all times… Pr. 17:17
     providing for honest things, not only before the Lord, but also before men. 2Cr. 8:21
     Iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the face of his friend. Pr. 27:17
       At the beginning of the movie, Mater seems to not have any desirable talents, but eventually he shows a unique one- "the world's best backwards driver," and attributes it to his big mirrors.  He says, "Don't need to know where I'm going, just need to know where I've been."  So we all have talents that may not be easily seen or desirable by others, yet they are God given talents nonetheless, to be used for His glory.  And I would amend Mator’s saying to “Don’t need to know where I’m going, just need to know who I’m with.”
       Mator is the type of friend I would want (if he were real), and I’m just kind of wondering if that is the kind of friends we are to each other and to those who don’t follow Jesus Christ yet.  How can we claim to be following Jesus if we don’t treat others as Jesus did, believers or not?  “No one has greater love than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (Jh. 15:13) and He certainly laid down His life for me, for you, for all of us, that we could have the hope of salvation.
        Jesus was close to Judas for three years, was He not?

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Plants vs. Zombies

       A few months ago Albert started playing this new weird game involving cartoon zombies that try to get into your house to eat your brains (which you never see) and the cute weaponized plants you use to defend your home.  One person in our family after another began to play… I was the last hold out.  What really attracted me was how cute the plants were and after playing a while I was given (virtual) plants for a Zen garden.  There I water and play music/ fertilize/ or bug spray the plants to make them happy, and in return, they produce coins to reward me so I can buy stuff.

       This morning I opened up the garden and fed Stinky the snail some chocolate to work faster and stay awake to pick up the coins that would pop out, and I set about making the plants happy, then I walked away to get prepared for the day.  After about an hour, I looked and saw two of my plants weren’t giving any coins because they weren’t happy, and determined it was because they weren’t planted in the correct garden.  They needed to be in the night plants garden.

       I moved them over and was finally able to make them happy so they could produce lots of coins for me, and I got thinking how much that is like us in life.  When we are in the wrong place (out of God’s will) then joy does not abide in us and we don’t produce fruit like we should.

In this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit, so you shall be My disciples.I have chosen you and ordained you that you should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain… (Jh. 15:7,8,16)

       So we are ordained by the Father to produce fruit that remains (does not depart):  love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, meekness, self-control; (Gl. 5:22,23)  This is how we will be known, by our continuous good fruit.

You shall know them by their fruitsevery good tree brings forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree brings forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruits, nor can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that does not bring forth good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you shall know them. Mt. 7:16-20

       If we want to produce good fruit (and not be thrown into the fire) we must be planted where the Lord wants us to be, doing what He wants us to do.  This is abiding in Him.  As we abide in Jesus (the main vine), His roots bring a supply of life into us, the branches.  Also, in order to keep us healthy, the Father regularly prunes the branches to produce better fruit.  Pruning isn’t pleasant, but the results are!

I am the True Vine, and My Father is the Vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away. And every one that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bring forth more fruit.
Now you are clean through the Word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it remains in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.
I am the Vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, the same brings forth much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. Jh. 15:1-5

       Just like my Zen garden plants couldn’t grow and produce in the wrong garden, so we can’t grow properly and produce abundant good fruit if we are not abiding in the Lord.  Let us seek Him out and His will for our lives, one step, one day at a time- in Him, through Him and with Him.

Lord, help us to know Your will, hear Your voice and abide / remain in You...

                      ...for we can do nothing without You!!!