"Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." (I Thessalonians 5:16-18)

Friday, February 27, 2009

In a Pit With A Lion on a Snowy Day

This book was introduced to me by my nephew Stephen who is enjoying his Freshman year at Central Bible College. I look at his Facebook page and can't help but smile seeing him allowing God to turn him into a preacher....not just any preacher...one who slays lions in pits despite the snowy days.

The book's cover says:
Your greatest regret at the end of your life will be the lions you didn't chase. You will look back longingly on risks not taken, opportunities not seized, and dreams not pursued. Stop running away from what scares you most and start chasing the God-ordained opportunities that cross your path. In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day is inspired by one of the most obscure yet courageous acts recorded in Scripture, a blessed and audacious act that left no regrets: “Benaiah chased a lion down into a pit. Then, despite the snow and slippery ground, he caught the lion and killed it” (2 Samuel 23:20 -21). Unleash the lion chaser within! What if the life you really want, and the future God wants for you, is hiding right now in your biggest problem, your worst failure… your greatest fear ? "

I'm on page 63. It's a refreshing book for me to read for many reasons. One is I've been immersed in Christian fiction novels for the last few years...and reading a non-fiction book reminds me how much I still thirst for the newness of God. Secondly, I love books that challenge my mode of thinking...I love books that take me to another level of God's mercy, grace and Professorship! He is the greatest teacher...and I've missed learning from Him.

As I read this book, I see that God saw Benaiah's feats as worthy to be put in His Word. So obviously we must learn something from this verse.

Today I read "In his Letters to Malcolm, CS Lewis said, "If God had granted all the silly prayers I've made in my life, where would I be now?" Lewis went so far as to say that someday we'll be more grateful for our prayers that didn't get answered than the ones that did. The reason for this is simple: Many of our prayers are misguided. We pray for comfort instead of character. We pray for an easy way out instead of the strength to make it through. We pray for no pain, when the result would be no gain. We pray that God will keep us out of pits and away from lions. But if God answered our prayer, it would rob us of our greatest opportunities. Many of our prayers would short-circuit God's plans and purposes for our lives if He answered them. Maybe we should stop asking God to get us out of difficult circumstances and start asking Him what He wants us to get out of those difficult circumstances."

One of my prayers is that God would change my character. It's kind of like pulling at an ingrown toenail. It's painful and sometimes nasty looking...and sometimes the ugly character grows back the same way...but with a callous around it. I, thank God, am still a piece of clay, ready and able to be molded...sometimes not willing.

Yes, I've read all of this before. But never when I was in a pit...with a lion...on a snowy day.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Boldness and Behind the Scenes

I wish all of us could be so bold as to go up to hurting people, homeless people and sit with them and give them our time. That would be so awesome. And each of us needs to get out of our comfort zones and do that at least once. I have. I was scared to death. In a day and age where I cannot remember a friend's name on any given day...it would be a frightening thing to walk up to a stranger and try to remember his/her name--much less give them a piece of Jesus in me.

But it did make me feel like I had peeled a layer of apprehension off of me and maybe next time it might be easier...and maybe not.

Matthew 25:31 “But when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit upon his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered in his presence, and he will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left.
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. 36 I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’
37 “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? 39 When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’
40 “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters,
you were doing it to me!’
41 “Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons.
42 For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink. 43 I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’
44 “Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?’
45 “And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’
46 “And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life.”

I have read and re-read this. I've really tried to see where someone would be considered less for just dropping off some used socks and shoes to homeless people. I've really tried to see where someone who brought warm meals to the homeless would be considered not doing what Jesus would do....

What's the motive? The motives of the church goers who brought shoes and socks so that the homeless would have their feet taken care of--- were their motives any less than those who brought themselves and the gospel? Those who brought the gospel had boldness that shoe-givers do not? I'm just asking because I need to know.

Jesus said "I was hungry, I was thirsty, I was a stranger, I was naked".....and this uncomfortably scared little team of church members brought clothes and another team--walking out of their comfort zones brought food. And then I read a quote from a precious child of God "I believe it's the raw, authentic love of Jesus lived out thru us that will draw people to the heart of God. Not a pile of socks on the street given out half-heartedly, or a hot meal given in haste."

The motives of the church goers who brought warm meals to the homeless...didn't it take time to give it to the homeless....to prepare it....to plan it... and the love to serve it? And instead of standing around and watching the fruits of their labors...didn't hang around and watch...they left...so that the homeless could enjoy their meal without people strutting around saying "see what we did for the homeless...what are you doing???" Are those who gave the hot meal any less a servant than those who have the boldness to walk up to these same people and give their time? I'm thinking both are reflections of Jesus... Because it takes all of us to be the hands and feet of the gospel.

I know passing out used socks and shoes and warm food isn't radical. But Jesus said that's part of what the righteous ones did for him.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Now That will Preach

I had a rectangle basket. In it I had a crock pot full of Taco Soup, some serving spoons, two hand mitts to carry the crock pot and two bottles of water. I put the basket on my front seat, but it was leaning toward the back of the seat and I could see the liquid in the taco soup about to spill onto the inside of the basket...

So I grabbed the only thing I could find in my car...My Bible. And I literally thought...now...that's a great leveler.

Wow...that'll preach.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

25 more things...everyone is doing it

My first list...the truth is I am a very boring person. I wish I had stories of rock climbing in the Andes or hiking among the wild cats...ect...but I don't. But as I have read other's 25 things...more items in my life that may be found interesting came to my head...so here's the rest of the story:

1. When I accepted Christ at the age of 30, was the very first time I "heard" the voice of God. He was very purposeful in the message I received. "DO NOT LET LIQUOR TOUCH YOUR LIPS THE REST OF YOUR LIFE." I got it...and I knew the voice I heard was mine, but the emphasis was not mine...it came from Someone with authority and I knew I needed to obey. Even though I LOVE mixed drinks and used to love to drink Aste Spumante Sparkling Champagne, in 24 years I have never touched any alcoholic beverage. The fear of what God may do to me for disobeying that DIRECT order outweighs the desires.

2. I nearly died when I was 8 years old from inhaling sugar-sweetened lemonade mix. I didn't do it on purpose--my sister had said something funny and I sucked in some of the powder in the spoon in front of me. The granules stuck in my throat and clogged my airway. My dad saved my life that night...and I have never forgotten that fear of not being able to breathe.

3. I nearly died after I had a hysterectomy at the age of 26. I woke up to doctors pounding on my chest yelling "BREATHE". When I awoke, the doctor said "We almost lost you."

4. I did see that tunnel and the light at the end of it ...and now I know why I didn't go there. I was not saved...and there was hellfire and brimstone waiting for me on the other side.

5. I've made some very stupid choices in my life that looking back I wonder what I was thinking. Things that I did as a young woman with three children should have gotten me in a lot of trouble, but God's hand was on me at all times...and I know that now.

6. When my children got hurt (Geoff broke his arm at 4 years old, Chris broke his in judo, Melissa had her toes separated by a sharp corner) I was always calm, collected and cool. Always, when it was over and they had gone to bed, I would fall into a corner and totally come unglued wondering how I ever was going to survive being the only parent of three precious children.

7. I faced School Boards on three different occasions fighting for my children. And that's not even in my personality...but no one messed with my children. And then I'd go home and fall into a corner and cry because I didn't have the strength to make another decision.

8. If I had not been pregnant before I was married, I probably would have never been married, because my children's father was the only date I had ever had. We married when I was 2 1/2 month's pregnant. We were married for almost 9 years and had two more children.

9. I didn't know that husbands didn't have to hit their wives. I thought that was what was supposed to happen. No...it never happened at my childhood home...but I really didn't think I was much worth anything else.

10. It took many years of making decisions, several months of deep intense counseling, and years on my knees in prayer before I felt worthy to be loved.

11. I become so sensitive to criticism that I fall apart, and have to reassess my worthiness.

12. My oldest son was my prototype. I had no idea what to expect from babies, children or grown children. Sometimes I still feel very ignorant.

13. I have to purposely 'button my mouth' when a woman calls for advice and is in a bad situation and she wants someone to bail her out because she's not strong enough to handle it. From my past comes the words that won't come out of my mouth (rightfully so.) "Suck it up honey...life isn't fair...if I can do it you can do it."

14. God taught me how to forgive through a lot of prayer and fasting. And my prayer has always been let me see them through Your eyes. So # 13 instead of really wanting to say Suck it up...I've learned that everybody is hurting... it's just the tip of the iceberg.

15. However, I have no patience for stupid questions. If the shirt tag says "L" that does means it's a Large.

16. I waste a lot of time watching TV and on Facebook.

17. I wish I was as nice and good as people think I am.

18. People who talk about other people and make fun of them: I always wonder what they say about me behind my back.

19. I got ahead of God on a promise I really feel He gave me and have paid for it the rest of my life. The regret is as deep as a nail wound.

20. I am not lonely. I am often alone.

21. I have no very close friends where I live now. Seems every close friend has moved away. Sometimes I feel isolated, but I know that God is in the background stirring up a great big surprise for me.

22. I am reading the Bible chronologically in 2009 and have not skipped a day. It's been interesting.

23. My biggest pet peeve is people leaving cabinet doors or drawers open.

24. I love who my children are now. I just wish... they know what I would say.

25. I wish I had an eraser for things I've done to hurt feelings. Life is too short to hold grudges.