Friday, September 22, 2017

What Are We Accepting?

Okay fiveminutefriday....
The word is accept and it took a few minutes more than five.

I finally got the hair right. I sat in the chair staring in the mirror. “I’m done with the scarves. I can’t stand it any more!” My hair has been in my face ever since I can remember. Growing up I had bangs, but they grew fast and hung thick and heavy over my glasses and when they were cut they looked too short for my face. My hairline is too low.  Then I grew them out. My hair was straight as an arrow and would hold no curl. I just brushed it all down and still continued to be hidden. That was in the late 60’s and 70’s.

Years have passed.  I have never accepted my hair. Cowlicks twist your hair into paths that flow opposite from the rest. I have spent life trying to train them. Now, sitting there, defeated by greying locks, my pride melted. “Let it grow the way it was intended to grow.” I'll spray it to hold it in place.

Surprisingly, after two weeks, I still like my hair. There is something about accepting the way you were made. We try to change it, hide who we are by rearranging ourselves, on the inside as well as on the outside. Somewhere we begin thinking (and In many cases, told) we are not acceptable to others and so we shouldn't accept our selves either.

If I could go back and change one thing in my life it would be my own dignity and respect for who I am in those situations where I know I let my fears dictate my actions. 1 Jn 4:18 “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. (Esv)

I think that fear has its roots in dishonesty. When we don't know how to recognize what is true about ourselves and accept and face it, fears keep us dishonest and that is punishment. However, acceptance comes with having the courage to admit I need help. I have to accept the truth of what is right, not the lie that maybe nothing has to change.

“Scripture tells us as Christians we are accepted in the beloved. It doesn't say ‘Stay right there, don't grow.” The plant is beautiful on the table, but if you don't take care of it properly it will die.

So my challenge is the serenity prayer in its full version, posted below.

 The key line in this is “He will make all things right if I surrender to His Will.”  This is not Rom 8:28 “…He will make all things work together for good ….” Whether I surrender to His will or not, He will work things for His good and there is no condemnation, whereas my happiness in this life is based on my surrendering to His Will.

The Serenity Prayer

God grant me the serenity 
To accept the things I cannot change; 
Courage to change the things I can; 
And wisdom to know the difference. 

Living one day at a time; 
Enjoying one moment at a time; 
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace; 
Taking, as He did, this sinful world 
As it is, not as I would have it; 
Trusting that He will make all things right 
If I surrender to His Will; 
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life 
And supremely happy with Him 
Forever and ever in the next. 


(prayer attributed to Reinhold Neibuhr, 1892-1971)

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

My Dilemma

I hear people, even Christians, talking about seeing Christ in all people. In your neighbors, strangers, coworkers, friends, family, etc., and basing our behavior toward them based on that. My dilemma is, I don't believe that Christ is in all people.  Before you delete me, let me explain.

Jesus is God's only begotten son. He is the only son that came directly out of God, out of who He is. Eternal, uncreated deity begets eternal uncreated deity. He was sent to dwell among man as a man, Jn 3:16, “For Go so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

I am a child of God only because I have been given the power to be one as a result of my free will choice to believe in and receive Jesus Christ into my heart. I base this on Jn 1:12, “As many as received him to them gave he the power to become sons of God, even to them that believe on his name”. I don't believe we are all children of God. I do, however, believe we are all made in the image of God, but that is not the same as being His child. An image is a reflection, a likeness. God is Spirit. I have a Spirit. He breathed into me and made me a soul. His breath is my soul. He is love. I have a capacity to love. My child has my genetics; he is more than a reflection.  We are born in sin. My child has my sin nature. 2 Cor 5:21 “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him…”

Before I acknowledged my need for Christ and my hopelessness without Him and received the forgiveness He gave to me I was not a child of God. He loved me, yet I was living with my own ideas with no thought at all about God. I had no assurance of any life outside of what I could or couldn't do for myself. Everything was based on my own goodness or moral understanding I chose to believe. My standards were for me, set by me and I judged others by them. When I did make that decision on June 22, 1974 my life radically changed, not by my own will, but by Christ's power. My heart changed and I could no longer think the same way as before. I exercised my will to receive him and he provided the power to become His child.

I believe it is a very grave stance we take when we assume another’s spiritual position. More than look for Christ in another person, I think it is wiser to “put on the new man” Eph 4:24, which is Christ and let another see Him in me. Is that not more fitting and honest before men? Then Christ would be searching the heart and seeing what is in it and not me looking and seeing what I may not even recognize correctly. If Christ sees himself in another, there will be connection; if not, then conviction. If I try and look for Him and don't find him, there may be condemnation or even guilt. God has called us to neither. He has called me to love and acknowledge the image of God in everyone and reveal the life of Christ to everyone, for even brother to brother (sister to sister), not just..." having a form of godliness , but denying the power thereof….2 Tim 3:5(a)

Isn't this what freedom in Christ means? Getting out of the way and letting him release who He is in me?

Monday, September 18, 2017

No Other Support

Really late with this fiveminutefriday prompt.
The word is support

Uphold me according to thy word, that I may live; and let me not be ashamed of My Hope. Psa 119:116

What do they want from me? Giving was never this hard. Lately I have seen evidence that the sweet fragrance is gone and the facade on the outside is beginning to show its wilted blossoms. In the midst of watching and participating in meeting other’s needs I am seeing a clearer view of my own as they remain unattended.

Sound’s like a pity party, doesn't it? I don't think it is. I believe I am being shown something about supporting and being supported. I am facing a reality where all of my concrete support systems are no longer holding me. First the fragrance goes, then the blossoms dry up and fall.
Words of encouragement can be a great support, but they hold you up only as long as they are believed and applied. The only one who really holds us is God and the only way you can really know and experience that is if you allow yourself to fall.

Not a star in the sky shines without darkness surrounding it. No one likes to admit defeat, but it is necessary. Blossoms are beautiful for a season but then they have to make way for the fruit to appear.

Do I want to continue helping people? Of course I do? But I need to face my need in all of its reality and step into a faith I know not of, a darkness I am led through with a hope that I am carried by. I am the only one who can help me by believing Him. When that happens, my support to others will be an extension of Him in me, and I will experience the fruit intended.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Why Can't We Play Nice?

She reeled in pain outside our door with a fishing hook stuck in her neck. She was 3, maybe 4. I was frantic. You saw me and knew something was wrong. In a flash you were there, calming my child, taking control, reeling me back to a centered state of mind.

Another time you saved my house from  burning to the ground. I started the fire without opening  the flue. We swam in your pool and occasionally helped you keep it clean. On your birthday a fake fall got you to our house for a surprise birthday dinner. We even allowed the beer.

We shared stories, sat at your table over coffee and exchanged holiday greetings. I left colored eggs in your driveway one early Easter morning alongside your newspaper.

What happened? I can’t figure it out.  Our status changed with circumstances but should that change our friendship? Should we not be neighbors who care without judging?

As I see you every day I am reminded of words Jesus said "love your your neighbor as yourself”. If I can’t do that, how sad a person I am!  And then I think, who is my neighbor?  Does that mean only those I  live near? I don’t think so. I think it’s everyone I encounter, and then some.

"Lord, help me to see others with your heart and eyes and pray for those who cannot.”

Writing for
The word is neighbor

Friday, August 25, 2017

Another post.
This week the word is 'guide'

He is Always Guiding

Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?
 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
    your right hand will hold me fast. Ps 139:7-10

It is believed that David wrote this prayer right after he was made king by the people of Israel. However, keep in mind he was anointed as king when he was a young shepherd boy, the youngest of his brothers. He had to learn by both his friends and his enemies the omniscience and omnipresence of God.

How often do we go off on tangents, either in our thoughts or even our conversations and it seems like where we had set out to go isn't even on the radar anymore. There are too many distractions. Take this into the goals we have made and all of a sudden feeling like the Israelites wandering in circles, but today we are wondering what is wrong with the GPS. They were guided by a cloud and a fire, and it felt to them like they were going nowhere.

One thing I am learning, maybe as David did, is that wherever I am, wherever I end up, whatever roads I travel, I cannot be outside of His thoughts, His eyes or His reach. Also, and perhaps more importantly to me, I know more now, that neither can you.

David sinned most after he was king, and that cost him the most for his kingdom  after him, but still God saw his perfect heart of repentance. Knowing and loving us does not take our responsibility away from us.

Maybe some of us thought we would be somewhere different by now.  Maybe, like David, God has anointed us to a certain place, but we have to learn things about Him and ourselves before that calling is made public. He is not only a guide to lead, but a guide to keep. His hand is just as strong to keep us from moving forward as it is to hold us firmly in place.

Friday, August 11, 2017
Where Christian writers expound their thoughts on a word a week. Check it out for a word buffet if you have a few minutes. Just browse, or link up and join in.
The word is place

A Longing For Home

We sat together outside his apartment on the bench. An independent living facility had been their home for a few years now. They had sold to a family member so they could still keep the attachment. It’s hard to leave a place where voices and handprints from infancy to adulthood still are embedded in the walls. Somehow you tell yourself you are taking them with you, but you know the solidity is in the place, for when you return and touch and smell, it all races back.

And he is progressing in his Alzheimer's now. His memory for past days is clearer. He talks about his trip to Ireland, the Homeland of his parents. When I ask him to describe it he pauses, and then “It’s a place”. That's all for his answer. And I thought, hmm.… it’s  a place. No memories that would stick, just a place to visit and then leave.

He went on talking about the train he took to work, the flowers he grew in the back yard, the summer picnics and his wife and their four children. This was more than a place. It was where his fondest memories were, and in his mind, he was there right then.
Sometimes we long for home, and the memories are different than what we really left behind. Because the reality is still there.

As a Christian I long for a home I have never seen, Heaven. My mind pictures and conjures up all kinds of images that I think it will be like. The Bible doesn’t really describe it much in detail. Streets of gold and a crystal Sea. There will be no darkness. There will be no tears nor sadness. There will be perfect love. Isn't that a place to call home!

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Writing on this word "try" with five minute Friday.
I tried to write last night, but it just wasn't right. So I didn't try today. I just wrote.

Creativity or conformity?

God never asked us to try. He asked us to be. He said come to me. Learn of me. Be diligent and sober minded. Cast your cares upon me. Follow me. He didn’t ask that I be any different than who I am.

Yes, do the best you can with what you have, but don’t let it become striving. Yes, run the race, but run with patience. You won’t stop God’s work in you. You can’t get behind and you can’t go ahead.

When does a child stop being a child? When their being falls under the scrutiny of others and the challenge to grow becomes a force to conform?  What happens to creativity then? Too often it is locked behind walls of fear and mistrust along with the child they are. And another emerges into the light. One who is required to know and reason and judge as an adult before it was ever meant to happen.

Seek for the child perhaps hiding within and you will find the Kingdom of God.

“Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the Kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein. Mk 10:15 (KJV)