and the One who walks with me on it.

Saturday, May 03, 2014

Grey Skies

In trying to figure out what to write, the Lord led me directly to this post (May 2011) which was extremely close to what I was going to write, so instead of duplicating it, I am reposting it.  The only difference is that it's been gloomy and cold here with some rain, and the world events have changed yet still are tragic.

*     *     *     *     *

       Is it three or four weeks of near continual rain?  I’m not sure anymore.  All I know is there have only been two reasonably warm and dry days of late.  I miss the sun.  I miss having light in the sky and seeing any colour besides gray.  I want to feel the warmth of the sun on my face and try to figure out what the fluffy clouds look like floating by in the blue sky.

       The other day when the sun broke through for a while, I went out and took a picture because it has been so rare that I forgot what a sunny sky looked like.  It was wonderful while it lasted even if it wasn’t very long.  Still, I appreciated it.  It’s weird how we forget to be thankful for the simple things (like sunshine) in life until they are gone.

       I can’t quite remember who I was talking to a couple days ago, but we were commiserating about life’s struggles:  gas prices, taxes, food price increases while wages stay the same, the weather being miserable, and more.  Immediately it dawned on me that we aren’t so bad off.  In Japan with earthquakes, tsunami, and radiation, or the southern U.S. where tornadoes have devastated homes, lives have been lost; here there is no flooding like Australia or drought as in China.  I don’t really worry about my kids being shot, starving, homeless or without medical treatment.  It certainly could be worse!

       Right now, my perception just needs to change.  I need to see the Son shining down in my life.  With His light on my face I can tolerate the gray skies, and be thankful that miserable weather is all we are experiencing.  These scriptures are a reminder that whatever struggles we are in, whether small or great, whether short lived or continual, that God should be thanked- for He gives us peace, comfort and He is with us always*:

-Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;  Eph. 5:20
-In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. 1Th. 5:18

*John 14:27- Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
2Cor. 1:3- Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort;
Matt. 28:20- Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.   KJV

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Would You Have Understood?

       Many times I’ve wondered what I would have said or did if I was following Jesus and He alluded once again to His death.  The followers didn’t seem to understand the full concept behind what He was saying, but they knew the words He spoke and what they entailed- death.  And He spoke more than once about it.  Here are two specific times:

Then Jesus said to them, When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you shall know that I AM, and that I do nothing of Myself, but as My Father has taught Me, I speak these things. Jh. 8:28
Now is the judgment of this world. Now shall the prince of this world be cast out. And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all to Myself. But He said this, signifying what kind of death He was about to die. Jh. 12:31-33

       Jesus said He would be lifted up from the earth, an idiom that the people knew meant death (v.34).  Being lifted up signified unnatural death, violent and public, and would symbolize Jesus’ mediation between God and man.  The mediation is because of the reference Jesus spoke of which is found in Numbers after the Israelites escaped Egypt.

(synopsis mostly) Israelites were complaining once again, discouraged because of the way, and so spoke against God and Moses.  God sent fiery serpents as judgment, the people repented and Moses prayed. God said, “Make a fiery serpent and set it on a pole. And it shall be when everyone that is bitten, when he looks upon it, he shall live.” Nm. 21:6-9
But even as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.  Jh. 3:14,15

       So Jesus here prefaces His teaching on being lifted up by likening His death to Moses lifting the pole with the serpent on it with Him.  The people looked on the statue and they were healed, thereby saved.  After we repent, we must ‘look to the cross’ to be saved.  Jesus became our mediator between us and God, using His blood to wash away our sins, thus opening our way to God’s presence again.  He died that we should not perish for eternity, but would be able to have everlasting life. 

       At the end of His mortal life, Jesus lost many followers who truly didn’t understand who He was and His purpose for being.  Most did not understand He HAD to die or they could not be eternally saved.  I’m sure many who watched Him actually die on that cross didn’t quite comprehend it still, not until after His resurrection and subsequent teaching.  I can’t imagine I would have been any different than His disciples.  Would you have understood?

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Don’t Judge a Book by It’s Cover

       On Sunday I was speaking to a man who said three times- just wait until you’re older (he’s only like 10 years older than me); it gets worse…  Worse?  Worse than waking up in pain every day sometimes for weeks- hardly able to walk because your feet are hurting too?  Worse than your neck and shoulders being so tight that every move hurts?  Worse than the constant pain of joints and back?  Worse than the disappearing memory (what day is it?)?  If it gets worse than this, shoot me…  My point is not to complain, but to say I am 47 years old, of a healthy weight, look reasonably well but that doesn’t mean you know what my life is like.

       My niece was mad at a friend who made no effort to visit on her recent trip down.  “She has a car, she should visit me!” she cried.  Little did she know the problems happening in her friend’s life including losing her car due to an act of revenge and the car no longer being safe for her children.  We just don’t know, we just can’t assume.

       ‘Joe has a good paying job so he can afford to replace their car…’  How do we know?  Perhaps all their money goes to helping their mom and dad.  Perhaps they have a child in costly long term care.  ‘Boy, he always looks so tired; he needs to get more rest…’  Perhaps he stays up half the night with a child who has seizures.  ‘Don’t understand why she looks so depressed all the time…’  No job, no income, mounting bills, a divorce, aging parents, one problem after another.

       We all do this.  One of the hardest for me not to judge is a younger person getting out of a car that parked in handicap parking and they have no signs of walking issues.  My very first though is ‘how rude’.  Then I have to remember there were days when undergoing chemo that I was so exhausted a handicap spot would have been too far for me to walk.  We just don’t know…

       Perhaps instead of forcing ourselves to stop judging, we should instead move toward the person and open their cover, after all, books are meant to be read!  Instead of thinking the cover looks scary or sad or angry or cold, perhaps we could ‘read’ a little, get to know the person and they might open up to us some of their struggles, sharing their burdens as we ought.  Maybe the love of Jesus Christ might shine out of us a bit into their lives.  Perhaps we may start feeling more like ‘one body’ when we find out others are struggling too and we have a lot in common.

Do not let each man look upon his own things, but each man also on the things of others. Php. 2:4
Confess faults to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed… Jm. 5:16
Bear one another's burdens, and so you will fulfill the Law of Christ. Gl. 6:2

       Did you ever read a book where the author or character struggled through tough times and how they overcame?  Remember how that made you feel like you too could do it?  “You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men,(2Cr. 3:2)  If we are all books for others to read, then we should let others read the unhappy parts- the struggling parts, the embarrassing parts too.  It will encourage them to go on.  If we only let them see the spiritual ‘doing great’ side, they may get discouraged thinking ‘What’s wrong with me?’  It is better to let the book expose the realities of this journey with Christ.  It might be on the pages of our book that Christ’s love may shine through and someone may get saved.  Or perhaps we will be encouraged to endure by reading someone else’s book.

Reach out- open the cover- take a peek- open your heart to someone new- find out what’s really going on in their life!

And love.  Always love.

Monday, April 28, 2014

There Was a Time…

        Remember the time when old tv shows and movies used to have a line, “I want the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.”  Those were the days when truth was considered right and lies were considered wrong.  Nowadays, lies are only bad in some cases, and the truth is personal or subjective- there is no ultimate truth. 

       Science used to be the search for truth, but now it is the search for truth as long as God is not involved.  And partial truths are okay as long as they suit our purposes.  It’s not that we lived up to better standards, but at least some of society highly esteemed truth.  It just seems like truth is not important anymore.  In praying to the Father, Jesus spoke these words about truth:

Sanctify them in Your Truth; Your Word is Truth.
and I sanctify Myself for them, that they also may be sanctified in Truth. Jh. 17:17,19 LITV
sanctify- hagoazo- make holy, purify, consecrate, separate from profane things and dedicate to God
truth- aletheia- of a truth, reality, of a certainty, in fact
word- logos- word uttered, sayings of God, doctrine, teaching, the thing spoken of

       So we see here that the truth is able to ‘make’ us holy, to separate us from the profane things of life, and that Truth is Jesus (logos in John 1) and God’s Word (also logos).  How can we be holy?  Immerse in the Word and in Jesus and His Spirit of Truth.

Jesus said to him, I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father but by Me. Jh. 14:6
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. Jh. 1:1
grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. Jh. 1:17
However, when He, the Spirit of Truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth... Jh. 16:13

       Jesus is the Truth.  Jesus is the Word.  He was in the beginning with God, therefore truth was always in God.  Perhaps that’s why society no longer values truth- because we no longer value God.  Instead, we value that which pleases our flesh.  But if we are not for the truth, then we are for the devil: “You are of the Devil as father, and the lusts of your father you will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and did not abide in the truth because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks of his own, for he is a liar and the father of it.(Jh. 8:44)
       Again, we are called to holiness (1Pt. 1:16) but holiness is not going to be prayed into our lives, hoped in, magically appear overnight, positively spoken into us, or any other such crazy ways.  Holiness comes through Jesus, His Spirit and the Word which means lots and lots of time with them and in the Word.  There are no short cuts (sorry!) there are no instant changes, but it is a daily effort in the presence of God and His Word that will change us inside and out: one step at a time.

Study earnestly to present yourself approved to God, a workman that does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth. 2Tm. 2:15
Then Jesus said to the Jews who believed on Him, If you continue in My Word, you are My disciples indeed.

And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
Jh. 8:31,32

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Two ½ Weeks

       It’s been over two weeks since I stopped exercising.  The first half was because by neck and shoulders tensed up so bad that I started taking anti inflammatory pills and believed the running would make the situation worse.  Then I got sick and could barely walk let alone run.  (Of course, breathing is necessary to run and when I tried to breath I had coughing fits.)  I’m still recuperating from that one so hopefully tomorrow- all is good to go.

       It’s been years since I didn’t exercise six days a week.  Every morning I get up and complain (in my head) about having to do it, but I do it anyway.  Oh wait, last year there was a few weeks in June when my lungs went kabluey…  Anyway, you’d think I’m looking forward to starting again, but not so.  To me exercise is necessary but not fun.  It’s okay though, because I’ll do it anyway.  Nothing makes you health motivated like a couple rounds of chemo.

       I have noticed that I don’t feel as physically capable of getting done what I need to everyday.  While a part of that is due to being sick, the other part is lack of exercise.  Found this really great list of the benefits of exercise most of which I never even considered:
      -Exercise keeps arteries malleable, flexible.
      -Losing as little as 6.5% weight improves blood pressure, glucose, cholesterol levels.
Mustard seed
      -Prevents fat in mid section (belly) that contributes to 
      -also prevents damaged blood vessels, heart and liver 
       disease, Alzheimer’s.
      -Lifts your mood by increasing serotonin.
      -Can be social activity which is known for increased 
      -Strength training improves bone strength, prevents 
      -Strength training and flexibility prevent physical injuries.
      -Team sports enhance hand-eye coordination, reflexes.
      -Tones your muscles, makes you leaner.

       Exercising our faith is quite the same.  If we decide not to do it one day it won’t kill us but it becomes easier to miss the next day as well.  That becomes two or three days.  Pretty soon, all the excuses come out of the closet:  I’m too busy, too tired, too afraid, too anything… 

God has dealt to every man the measure of faith. Rm. 12:3 (see also Ep. 2:8)

And the apostles said to the Lord, Give us more faith. And the Lord said, If you had faith as a grain of mustard seed, you might say to this sycamine tree, Be rooted up and be planted in the sea! And it would obey you. Lk. 17:5,6
Then faith is of hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. Rm. 10:17
But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. Hb. 11:6

told this is a mustard tree
       According to Scripture, God has given each of us an amount of faith.  It doesn’t matter how much it is, we can increase it.  The disciples tried asking Jesus for more faith, but His reply indicates they don’t need more, they just need a tiny bit and since God has given every man a measure, we each have at least a bit!  Instead, what they needed to do was use it.  We must put ourselves out there and use that faith: to pray for a sick person, give to someone in need, tell a person about Jesus, visit a shut in, call a distant friend.  Muscles not used atrophy; muscles used become stronger.

       Read the Word, listen to the Word, meditate on it day and night.  This will increase our faith because the more we read with Holy Spirit understanding, the more we know God, the more we trust God and have faith IN HIM.  We will also increase faith by diligently seeking Him.  That’s not a quick ‘hello’ in the morning and forgetting Him the rest of the day, but a thorough, careful with attention to detail going after Him, to know Him more and be more like Him- ALL DAY LONG.  Just like when we were in love wanting every moment to be with that person- to learn everything about them.

exercising faith
       But the biggest thing imo is using the faith that we have.  “Use it or lose it” isn’t found in the Bible per se, but the meaning is; in Mt. 25:14-30 and the parable of the talents.  God gives ALL of us talents according to our abilities, but we can’t be so afraid to use them that we bury them (v.25).  If He gave them to us we are ABLE to use them for His glory.  To do or say less is calling Him a liar.  I don’t wanna do that!

       On a personal note, when I stopped saying, “I’ll pray for you,” walking away and keep them in my prayers, but rather started saying, “Let’s pray right now, is that okay?” that an amazing thing happened.  Prayers got answered.  Not because my faith was so great, not because my prayers were so good or perfect and not because I’m any more special than anyone else.  Simply put, God moved because His child prayed and He wanted to move- it’s all on Him, about Him and because of Him.  His power, not mine.  That’s the way it should be!