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A Good Playdough Day

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To those who know about the unpredictability of autoimmune diseases, it comes as no surprise that there are days that I have deemed as “Frisbee Squirrel” days. Those days when all previously made plans must be set aside to deal with a body in non-compliance. When the weight of one’s extremities add boat anchors to the weight of the torso sinking into the mattress, it requires major effort to move. Getting upright to walk a few yards to the toilet and back is akin to executing a marathon. Although, praise the Lord, these days are fewer than past years, I do occasionally get side-lined. Today was just such a day.

I had great plans of getting some painting done on a big set project that has a hard deadline. I did prep work yesterday, so I was ready to execute some productivity today. Awwwwk [buzzer sound]…not gonna happen!

Exactly one day after proclaiming that I do trust that God is in charge of everything in my life…And that ALL of it is for my good and His glory…And that I can actually rejoice in trials because of the fact that God uses trials to make me more like Jesus; here I am “grounded” so to speak. My bones have all the strength of a pile of dust. I am fighting to keep my eyes open and my thoughts of the simplest task in a straight line.

It became obvious that I was forced to resign myself to another lost day. The cold, rainy day outside was adding to the gloom that wanted to throw a big pitty-party to the frisbee squirrel who was of no use. However, God was gracious to me!! Let me tell you how.

Last night’s growth group study, focussing on the Bible book of Ephesians, dealt with God’s gifting each of us with what we need to help grow ourselves & others up in Christlikeness. A godly advisor & another friend each independently spoke of being happy for trials. In my morning Bible reading God’s Word reminded me that God is the strength of my heart. In the midday, I received an unexpected facebook tagging of a very good article about Women’s ministry being more than just casseroles or being a Proverbs 31 woman. And finally, my handheld device allowed me, even while too weak to get out of bed, to follow-up on people who are seeking help with Foreign Accent Syndrome.

That series of events helped me quickly shift off of the feelings of defeat to the intentional pursuit of just doing something…any little thing…that I can do.

As a result, today I was blessed to be able to bring great relief and comfort to two souls that are literally in different parts of the world from me, and each other. Yet all three of us know the pain, suffering & loneliness associated with having such a rare condition as Foreign Accent Syndrome. The difference is, I know how to use social media and the world-wide web to reach out to find those who are not getting properly diagnosed or help in the ignorant or uninformed medical community. I have been blessed to be able to speak with many different people about many different things in straightforward and understanding manner. I care for others and they sense that early on. God allows me to be comfort and His love for them.

It is so humbling to realize that God actually uses ME!
God actually uses me, at my absolute lowest of strength and power to have impact in the lives of others! Is that not amazing?!

So, today as I look back on what I thought was going to be another wasted day in which I was just taking up resources, God instead used this day to teach me a new perspective.
What I thought was a “Frisbee Squirrel” day actually turned out to be a “playdough” day. >> Rather than giving in to the notion that I was of no more use than a dried up dead squirrel and all the negativity associated with that, I was given a different outlook.

God allowed me to be truly flexible; to accept that although things were not as I had planned, that it could be okay.

Allowing myself to be molded by my Maker was very rewarding. In fact it was beautiful. I could relinquish all the strain of trying to “make” things happen and instead allow myself to be moved and shaped as He saw fit, knowing that would guarantee a good result. In fact: the best result was assured. It truly left a lasting impression on me and on others.

As I look back on today, I rejoice even in the not-idealic circumstances of my day. I was able to make a new friend in Scotland and another in Chile who actually cried with relief to hear from me…me?! (a nobody Frisbee Squirrel bedridden in the Midwestern United States). I tell you God never ceases to amaze me. Amazing love; how can it be? It was a good day to be playdough.

What kind of day did you have?

Good Friday: The Crux of the Matter

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Exactly why do we call it GOOD Friday? It’s because as horrific as it was; in light of the truth of the Hy Bible it was/is/and forever will be good when coupled with Easter! That’s also why we call the Gospel, the Good News.

It is no wonder why I delight in the Word of God and celebrating the Lenten season so much: THIS …. JESUS …is what it’s ALL about!!

Look at all that happened as Jesus ministry on Earth was coming to a close, with teachings, parables and miracles. The mobs of self-seeking people; crowds, anger and betrayal.

Look at ALL the fulfillment of scriptural prophecy (only a small part of it can I list here):
•There was The Arrival of the Messiah on a donkey colt (Palm Sunday);
•the Passover being celebrated with THE Lamb Himself in a new way at the First Communion (Maundy Thursday), Jesus demonstrating servant leadership and giving the New Commandment;
•the Garden of Gethsemane (the Winepress) on the Mount of Olives where our Lord was hard pressed as He prayed in anguish to His Father while His dearest friends slept & the betrayer delivered a kiss along with His captors;
•the denial of Peter and fleeing of the disciples; the mock trial and real ‘Silence of the Lamb’ as they brought false accusations, injustices and forced physical defilement, spitting, beatings and torturous scourging
•A weakening Jesus trudged up The Via Dolorosa (Latin,”Way of Grief”, “Way of Sorrows”, “Way of Suffering” or simply “Painful Way”) the road to Calvary a.k.a. Golgotha (“the Skull”), at one point collapsing under the weight of the cross he bore;
[ASIDE: I enjoy the mention of the comfort given to Jesus by Simon of Cyrene (carried the cross part of the way) and Lydia (who wiped His face with her scarf) ]
• finally, Jesus was nailed to the cross and lifted up naked, in the middle of the criminals also crucified;
•the punishment for All sin of those who would be redeemed for all time!

The CROSS — that is the crux of the matter. Really, not so much the wooden symbol of crucifixion; rather the One who willingly died there for us —the Messiah…Jesus Christ: Savior, Redeemer, Lord!

That is where we were redeemed (bought with a price) and received our salvation (saved from God’s wrath for our sins) and were granted God’s forgiveness through His righteousness (Jesus lived without sin so He was exchanging His right standing with God for our sins). That all happened on the Cross.

His death was unlike any other in all of history! Every detail was fulfilled exactly as God had foretold. His body bore the “stripes” and “wounds”. He was counted among the transgressors. In all that torture, not one bone was broken. He died before the need of Romans to break his legs to hasten the dying.

IRONIES
There are a few ironic items I must acknowledge.

Even as Jesus was being so mistreated; actually WHILE He was dying on the cross, He demonstrated His top priority was the care of others!

He had provided for future care of His dear disciples at the Last Supper. He reattached the ear of the soldier (an enemy) that Peter had severed in the garden.
He assured the proper care of His mother Mary who was at the foot of the cross with “John, this is your mother. And to her He said “this is your son.”

The very work Jesus was doing was the ultimate care of others— many, many others. This was not just a passing “I hope it goes well with you,” or as we might say “have a nice day”. This wasn’t just a toss of some spare change into a beggars hand. This wasn’t even simply physically tangible “help”. Jesus provided self-sacrificing– for God’s glory and your good– true SOUL care.

With His Words “Father Forgive them for they know not what they do,” He was the executing supernaturally self-sacrificing act of forgiveness…even to those who caused His pain. Such a deep, all-consuming pain! Not just physical or emotional pain, but soul wrenching anguish. At the moment when Holy God turned His face away from Jesus who cried out “Father why have you forsaken me?” we cannot really grasp that, can we?

Amidst all the horrid smells the beaten bodies and soldiers were putting out; blood, sweat, excrement and urine, it is not lost on me that Jesus likely was still smelling of the large amount of perfumed ointment the women applied to His feet with her tears and hair earlier in the week. I hope that smell rose to His nostrils as He endured the torture on the cross. Perhaps it in some small way reminded Him that there were still those who loved Him present even during this terrible time.

The phrase “a fragrant offering being offered up to God” comes to my mind as I reflect on what was happening here on the cross and compare it with God’s Old Testament declarations to His Chosen People of Israel about what was an “acceptable sacrifice”.

Just before He died Jesus asked God to forgive us and then declared “it is finished”. Then He died.

BUT GOD!!! Stay tuned for the next post–

In the meantime please sacrifice a moment of your time to give your thoughts (and if you see mistakes; corrections) on this post.

Pruning Away Worry

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Worry Response

In response to the article Worry Thrives When Worship of God Dies
http://rodandstaffministries.org/worry-thrives-worship-god-dies/#comment-1965
By Dale Porter

I whole-heartedly agree with your article. I would add that not only is worry an intigrated part of our sin nature; it is also intertwined with fear. Fear that in relinquishing control (like we even had control in the first place) we are no longer able to assure our safety and happiness because we cannot be sure that our expectations will be met.
Look at how many times in the Bible man’s fear is met with “Do not fear” being uttered by God or God’s messenger. There are even commands like “Be strong and courageous,” and “Fear not…”! How is that even possible?
God tells us the answer “perfect love casts out fear”, “I am with you always”, “If God be for me, who can be against me”? God wants to have us experience the love and peace of being His child; “My peace I give to you..”, “peace that surpasses all understanding”, “neither life, nor death, things past or present… Or ANY created thing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.” (Rom.8)
So when I feel that temptation to worry and my internal dialogue says “what about this or what about that?”, I now recognize that worry as the same as standing before God and saying “I don’t trust You”. I realize that it is sin because it is actually me (my flesh) not trusting my Lord God.
Like the first sin in the garden, I am actually asking “did God REALLY say…?” And then that serpant will hiss along to feed sinful thoughts “you can do this one yourself; you don’t need God. Besides The Almighty is too busy to be bothered with this particular menial matter”. So doubt gives rise to pride which births all the other sinful thoughts and actions: worry, jealousy, entitlement, anger, selfishness, gluttony, lust, and fear…and so many more.
All of those boil down to not only refusing to worship our Holy GOD, but it actually is defiance…sin… as we act in direct disobedience to our Creator who commanded “Thou shalt have NO OTHER gods before Me”. My pride dares to place myself as more important than God! Now, that is definitely sin.
I believe that worry arises out of our mistrust of God’s Word, truth and faithfulness. Worry particularly floats to the top of the cesspool of sun during some bad or trying circumstances in life. Not that the “Devil made me do it” (because I have the ultimate responsibility for my actions), however Satan does surely like to tempt man to act in opposition to God. The battlefield of the mind is one such place in which we Christians need to be prepared for onslaught. For whatever reason, we can doubt that God is the Sovereign and Almighty, who holds all things together and brings things about for His own glory, and also for our own good.
Therefore, it is ever important to be feeding upon and studying God’s Word; not just to have knowledge, but to actually apply those truths to our life. It is because of the truth of Scripture that we can battle those moments of doubt, worry or fear. Not a single one of those emotions is a fruit of the Spirit that God promised.
I strive to be a good farmer as I examine the orchard of my soul. With the help of the Holy Spirit (& sometimes an accountability partner), God’s Word and prayer I prune back for greater yield (having to choose between good and best). I remove the sucker vines (distractions, busyness) and discard anything that does not contribute to the production of “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control”–for these are the fruit of the Spirit.
Yes! It is true that worshipping God kills worry. Because when we have a right view of God (far greater than us, Almighty, our Creator & our Master Who loves us enough to sacrifice Jesus for us…) then we can have a right view of ourselves (nothing apart from Him: we are God’s Child who He wishes; to bring honor to Him, love and obey Him while He loves and cares for us). As the great hymn extolls “trust and obey for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus than to trust and obey.”

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