For those who read here, I hope you haven’t minded that the past several posts have been my rehashing and fleshing out the latest sermons from church! I’ve just found the content really fascinating lately, more so than usual, and I can’t seem to stop thinking about it through the week.
This past Sunday’s sermon was a continuation of Pastor Trevor’s “Better” series. He’s focusing on how the general public view of Christianity and religion as a way of life has changed in the past few decades. He explained how up until the fifties and early sixties, over 95% of Americans would have classified themselves as being Christian or having a belief in God, a way of living “religiously”. Even people who would not self-identify as Christian still had beliefs in a Higher Power, in a being “out there” who was greater than themselves and in control of things here on earth.
He brought up how much that has changed in the past twenty years especially. He talked about the similarity of our current culture that seems to be burnt out on religion as a whole and Christianity specifically to the culture that Jesus stepped into when He began His ministry. A statistic he quoted says that most people today say they feel their lives are better without any sort of religion.
Wow. That’s a huge departure from the days just before my own appearance on this planet. I was born in the late sixties and grew up feeling as if most of the kids I went to school with knew about God and believed in Him. It was fairly common that if you used the Bible to support your view of something, it would more often be accepted as truth than not. If you decided to pray over your meal, others around you would respect that by not interrupting or by turning their conversational volume down a bit while you prayed.
Nowadays, of course, the Bible is almost automatically questioned or outright dismissed as any reputable presentation of truth. I will interject here that back in the time I refer to in the previous paragraph there were also a good amount of folks who would just as soon thump you with the Bible as read it to you. At least the little I can recall of those years as a young child, people weren’t all that subtle about their religiosity or their beliefs. It was expected that you believed in the Bible and if you didn’t you were labeled stupid or rebellious. EVEN if you had a legitimate question about what was being taught from scripture, if it went against the mainstream of whatever congregation you affiliated yourself with, you would be severely chastened if not completely dismissed or blackballed!
Those are not what I consider “the good old days”. I’m still recovering from those “old
days” and growing up in a church culture that was more exclusive than inclusive, more separatist than mediator. That required me to learn that others who grew up in that same kind of culture had the same unasked questions that I did! Being able to learn from those people, getting together to discuss those questions we weren’t allowed to ask and find the Biblical answers was healing to my wounded spirit. It turns out that a lot of the ways, things I was taught and beliefs held by what I consider old, traditional church is not exactly the way Jesus presented it. It had strayed into some unscriptural rule-making and expecting the outside world to understand what we on the inside of the church were talking about when they (the outside world, non-Christian) didn’t have any context… and then getting mad about it when they didn’t comprehend our “good news”.
All that to say this…yes, our society is changing. Probably not for the best in general, but there are other changes happening too. While there is plenty of moral decline in America and the world, there is also some renewed Godliness. Not spirituality or religiosity, but true Godliness where the Creator of All is revered as the Ultimate Authority and the love of Jesus is shown to those who in the past would have been rejected in and by a church.
Like I mentioned in my last post, the very first thing God ever did when He began to give men the words that would become our Bible was to present Himself as a creator. And as a creator, you must have a certain amount of love, passion, and joy in whatever it is you create. God took SO much time… well, OUR concept of time at least, so much CARE, I should say, to make everything unique and beautiful. Why would He do that for a world He did not love? Not to mention His loving us SO MUCH that instead of giving up on us, He gave up Jesus for us.
It’s been wonderful to learn more about scripture and be able to explain why, in my childhood and teen years I felt so discouraged by “the gospel” and my church. It’s also been hard to move past the teaching that was drilled into me about who was and who wasn’t “suitable” to come in the church… who wore the right kind of clothes for church, who sang the right kind of songs, played the right music or had the appropriate instruments on the stage. It’s been freeing to learn that just because you like a different kind of music than me doesn’t make yours any less worshipful than mine. God doesn’t care what we wear, but rather about the condition of our hearts. On the topic of clothing, which was a major sore spot in my home and my childhood church, when I’d hear people picking apart someone else’s wardrobe choice I often wondered why then was it not a factor when David tore off his outer clothes and danced for joy in his underwear? (2 Samuel 6 – Where it says David wore a linen ephod? That’s his underments made of thin linen cloth!!) And why was it not a hindrance for the repentant thief who hung next to Jesus that day?? All of them– he, the unrelenting thief and Jesus– eventually were naked in public! Why was it okay to say he was forgiven while he was indecent in public? And what about the other sinners Jesus ate and sat with? I’m sure many of them were inappropriately dressed… um, hello!! You know those “loose women” didn’t run home and throw on a “church dress” before they met Jesus .. especially since Jesus met people where they were! In their mess! In their hooker clothes!
Oops… sorry. I got off track a bit there. But you can see how those nagging questions can lead a person to reject the gospel when there is a contradiction between what scripture says and what a body of Christians do. I know and have heard testimony of many people who literally walked out on God because of the way they were treated by or how they saw others treated by people who said they represented Jesus.
That needs to stop! We as the body of Christ need to get back to the basics of Jesus’ teaching. The greatest commandments are these:
And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
About that title… I had a post all-but ready to publish yesterday. I was looking for photos to use in it when I ran across something on my Facebook timeline. I have searched all through the year it happened and cannot find it. There are about 4 days missing and I even went back several years to see if it was there instead, but no. It was about something really important.
And controversial, of course.
I am SO upset that I can’t find that post because it linked to an article, which is what started the post in the first place. I debated just giving up on the idea of even writing about it at all, but guys, it’s REALLY important and I’m being serious here.
I feel like, as so often happens, the enemy is attempting to thwart something that would bring God glory, so even though I can’t find the post or article, even though I’ve spent literally almost FOUR HOURS looking for it, I’m going to go ahead and write about this.
I think there may be someone out there who needs to read what I have to say today. It’s something that feels like one of those “God nudges” so I’m not going to ignore it. Please bear with me since I will have to explain SO much because I don’t have the linked article!
I’ve found only one article that is even halfway similar to the post I mentioned in my FB status, so I’m going to put the text link here, but I’m not linking to the article. You’ll have to copy/paste into the address bar to read it and I encourage you to read it. I just don’t want to popularize it by linking it from my blog.
The blog post I saw back then was just a few days after the suicide of Robin Williams. The lady’s point was that suicide was not selfish and I didn’t agree with her.
Now, before you get riled up at me, I didn’t start a debate with this woman. I merely created a status stating that I disagreed with no links to her or mention of her name, etc. I didn’t want to increase her pain since she linked her feelings to the loss of a parent by suicide. I didn’t and won’t even pretend to understand how one would begin to cope with such a tragedy. I was not and am not trying to pass judgment on her, her parent, RW or anyone else!
However, given the fact that RW’s decision to take his own life was linked to depression, and depression is something I know, I’m going to address it. I know depression well. Depression and I are like ** this **.
I’m not going to deny it. In my worst, most desperate moments of deep depression, I have pondered committing suicide myself. More than once. If you know anything about depression, you know how it can grip you, how it can strangle you and make you feel like there is absolutely no reason whatsoever for you to go on.
I want to interject here that my thoughts and opinions about all this are filtered through my faith in Jesus. If you do not consider Him to be your Savior, then you are not likely to understand my intentions here. Just be aware that you MUST use this faith-filter in order to even begin to know my intent.
I believe without doubt or hesitation that my faith in Christ is the only reason I didn’t go through with ending my life. Perhaps it was guilt over the thought that I would be disappointing Him if I carried it out. But when I had lived a couple of decades with depression, after I had resisted the temptation to get rid of my pain through suicide, I finally learned something that has kept me from ever seriously considering it again.
My life is not mine.
Before, when I was younger and would consider suicide, I could only think about how death might bring some peace to my aching heart. I thought about how not having me around would take undue stress off my family and loved ones. I thought about how things would stop being so hard, so painful, so worthless.
In short, I thought a whoooole lot about one thing: ME. I was too young and immature as a Christian– because yes, sometimes even us Christians think about ending it all– to realize that I am not the “owner” of my life.
That probably seems like a strange thing to anyone without faith in an eternal God and Creator. But here’s how it works… if I believe that God created all things, all humans, then I must recognize that God is the Giver of Life. If He gave this life to me, then in reality, it isn’t really mine, is it? Especially when you go further and add to this the realization that our lives, our time on earth, is just “borrowed” and we must one day, when this life is over (whether by our own hand or not) give an account for how we used our time here, it really sobers you up in a hurry. It makes you put down the spirit (as a liquor) of persecution, of pettiness, of self-focus and yes, selfishness.
While I pondered how I could not imagine dealing with one of my own parents committing suicide, the way this lady was, I then put my children in that spot. If I thought it would be hard for me to cope with, why on earth would I consider putting my own children through that? How utterly selfish and thoughtless of me! That thought is possibly more of what kept me from killing myself when I was a young mother. I couldn’t dream of doing such a thing to my babies.
It was later that I realized what sort of thing my suicide would be to God.
I believe that all things are created for a purpose. I think most Christians believe this. Even bad things can be turned into good ones through Christ. I have lived that doctrine out many times! So, if God created me, He gave me life and meant it as a gift, something precious to be treasured and used for His glory…then how dare I think I know when it should end and how dare I contemplate ending that life myself?
How dare I??
When I put it that way, I am stunned and ashamed that I ever even entertained such thoughts. And don’t get me wrong… I still fully understand what it’s like to be in such a deep pit, lost in such total darkness and in such great pain that you think there’s nothing left but death. I am not trivializing the way that feels at all.
I wouldn’t dare do that, either!
But…I am adding to it another thought. A thought beyond the temporary (but sometimes extremely too-long) pain that is depression. The realization that this is not my life. God gave it to me. He intended me to use it to glorify Him. What glory do I bring Him if I let desperation and depression SO overcome me that I take my own life? What glory is it if I dismiss His might and power to keep me safe, to direct my path, if I throw away the gift He gave me? Where is my faith if I let what I KNOW to be the work of my enemy destroy my faith that God is enough. That He is mighty enough to deliver me from this, just as He made a dry path through the Red Sea for Moses. Just as He provided a substitute sacrifice for Abraham as he prepared to prove his faith in God by sacrificing his only son, Isaac. Just as He closed the mouths of lions and kept Daniel safe and sound. Just as He walked in the fire where the three Hebrew men (who refused to bow to an idol) had been thrown. *
Once my mind was healed enough to realize what suicide actually is to God… a virtual slap in the face. A statement that He actually doesn’t know best. That God can’t keep me safe or heal me. That He doesn’t care and the gift of life He gave is worth nothing to me.
And most tragic of all, that Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross wasn’t enough for me.
I am not wise enough to state or debate about whether committing suicide will keep you from entering Heaven. I know some people believe that as much as they believe the sun gives light, but I don’t. I admit that I could be wrong. ** chuckle ** We all know, I could certainly be wrong about a lot of things, especially something so spiritual and eternal as this. So I won’t debate it but I can’t think God would “undo” the promises made when a person accepted Him because they later became so despondent and so wracked with grief and pain that they made a foolish, albeit eternal, choice. Again, I DO NOT KNOW THIS and I’m only stating my opinion. You decide for yourself if you must ponder the question.
I am so thankful that my mind is no longer so clouded. That even when I am deeply depressed I can remember Who I belong to. Yes, I do STILL get depressed. Not sad, not discouraged, but deeply grieved and almost physically unable to smile it seems. Depression for me is hugely physical and not just emotional or psychological. It’s like having a heavy black cloth thrown over me that I must fight to get out from under. When I’m there, in the darkness which can feel completely isolated, I can recall that God made me and He DOES have a purpose for me. Then I can ponder what He wants me to learn from this season.
I hope my rambling and sharing has helped someone out there. I hope it speaks to your heart and prods you to look at God’s word for healing. EVEN when He doesn’t “cure” your depression, you can still rest in Him knowing that He doesn’t forsake and He knows the plans He has for us… plans for good and not harm; plans for a purpose and to bring us to right where He needs us to be.
As I like to say, I don’t have to understand it. I just have to trust God with it.
Email me if you have questions or want to talk through anything.
- scripture references for the miracles mentioned in this post:
Additional encouraging scripture:
It’s been crazy around here since my last post. It took a lot out of me to write about losing my sweet puppy-boy, Max. But the point of that post was that God can heal any disease, any injury, even a broken heart.
I also told you that I needed to find another little fuzzy to fill the void left by Max’s death. Tommy and I had been looking at all sorts of rescue and adoption sites for Shih-Tzu mixes and at our local shelters. We found a possible one in Georgia and we would have gone through with it had it worked out. As it was, the adoption people have not yet contacted us about our application and God orchestrated a different plan in the meantime.
A local friend of ours messaged me one night a few days after my post was published. She said she had a little Shih-Tzu mix puppy that she needed to rehome. This friend has seven children, the five youngest she is still homeschooling! She said she’d thought the kids would have more time to spend with the puppy, but their busy schedules had not afforded it much time. She loved the pup but could see it was suffering from neglect (emotionally, that is) when it had to beg for attention from the kids. As you can imagine, all those children, plus homeschooling, each child with extra-curricular activities and a husband with his own business is a lot for a mom and it came to the point she realized she needed to find a new home for their little pup.
She had already asked a few other friends since she didn’t want to put it in a rescue situation, so she hesitantly messaged me that night to see if Tommy and I might possibly consider taking her.
We went to pick her up the next morning. (ha!) It just seemed like another situation God had worked out in advance. She is young enough, like we wanted and now we would know about her background instead of unsure of how she was treated. We know she was well-loved and taken care of.
And now we have little Silvey, an 18-month old Shi-poo (Shih-Tzu/Poodle mix). The past week has been an adventure to be sure, but Silvey (short for Silverbells Piddlepie -haha!) settled in amazingly well. We even took her to Knoxville with us the day after we brought her home and she did excellent.
She’s so different from Max, it made me tear up a bit as we drove down the highway, thinking about how he used to cuddle up in my lap but Silvey wanted to sit independently on the center console. The next couple of days, though, she became more cuddly as she adjusted to feeling at home with us. She gets along great with Samson, our chocolate lab, and seems each day to feel more and more at ease.
I have not posted anything on Facebook or Instagram about having her to avoid having my friend’s younger kids see it and feel sad about having to part with her, but soon, I’ll share some photos on there. Right now, she is needing to visit the groomer and so I will wait until she’s got a new hairdo to post pix.
For now, I’m trying desperately to get a video up here for you guys of Silvey fussing at the bad doggie in the mirror of our bedroom. She’s been mad at that dog all day long and the weirdest thing is, she has seen that mirror before today. Goofball! Ha ha ha!
In other news, today is Tommy’s fifty-first birthday. I’m gonna attempt to make a gluten-free chocolate cake for him. With all his allergies, it’s so hard to find things he can eat. If we find a restaurant where he can eat, there are never any wheat-free desserts on the menu, so I’m fixing this cake for him. I sure hope it comes out right!
Our Ohio kids (ha!) are coming down tomorrow evening to be here for Tommy’s birthday and we have a girls’ breakfast planned for Saturday morning since the boys are squeezing in a bachelor-party/camping-trip thing. I’m looking forward to that!
Beyond that, life is pretty normal. I’m still struggling with low energy despite the fact that I’m taking B-12 injections at home each week. We haven’t got to ride bikes this week due to rain and a severely neglected yard (we had to rake the entire thing the grass was so tall and thick!). Maybe we will get to go this weekend, though. I start missing it so much if we don’t get to go.
I need to get back to editing what I have written of my book. Editor Elaine has informed me that she is almost ready to send chapter two to me with suggestions and a rewrite along with her notes on my rewrite of chapter one! I can’t believe how productive it makes me feel to have her notes to work with! I am SO thankful she is helping me like this!
I’m off to get you a video… You’ll see why I needed this little stinker…she makes me laugh the way Max did but at an entirely different personality.
The heart is never too broken. Our hearts are indomitable, always rebounding, when God makes the repairs.
Thanks for hanging with me!
HERE YOU GO!! VIDEOS!
Do you ever wonder what God’s love looks like? Well, I’m going to show you just one of many shapes His love can take. Observe:
Yes. That stack of medical supplies is just one example of the way God’s love looks to me.
Let me explain.
If you read here at all, you probably picked up on the fact that I often worry about money. I honestly don’t worry about much else. Maybe if one of my kids is sick or hurting emotionally, I’ll be concerned and prayerful about that, but things like medical crises and being sick or injured myself doesn’t worry me. I think that God has shown His hand SO many times in that way that I no longer spend very much time worrying about my health or things like that. But money (or rather, the lack of it!) has always had the power to bring me to my knees.
Worrying about how we’ll pay the bills or afford to fix something can mess me up big time. I will fret so much about it that I almost just freeze. Nothing more so than when it comes to the dire necessities.
God has grown my faith and matured me a lot in the past several years when it comes to trusting Him. I don’t say that to brag, but to point out His grace in being patient with me and giving me second, tenth, eighty-fourth chances. It has always bothered me that I worried so much about money. I’m always trying to figure out how to make more of it, how to generate more income or in times of serious need, I start thinking of things to sell and we just don’t even have a lot of that when it comes to making a quick hundred or so. Yes, for us, an extra $20 can sometimes be very hard to come up with, just so you understand my frame of reference.
After some wonderful sermons that have been speaking to me about growing my faith, I determined that I would stop fretting about money and paying bills. I would begin to wait, lean on and trust in God to meet these needs. And before I knew it, a perfect opportunity presented itself.
I was almost completely out of supplies for my insulin pump. I had called the supply company already over a week ago trying to sort through a balance they said I still owed. I explained to them that I have a second insurance policy that should have paid the balance. They said I had one amount from the first of the year already in collections and another balance. After being given the run-around and being told various things by various people, I finally had a sales rep tell me they don’t “participate” with my secondary insurance company.
Nice. After having TWO different people who were supposedly from the company’s insurance department assure me “we will get that filed with your other policy right away”, now a sales rep tells me they don’t even take the other insurance?? ARGH!
I have no patience when it comes to this kind of stuff. It sets me on edge and makes me a nervous wreck. There’s just something about being told you have an outstanding balance of almost $1500 that makes me queasy. When it’s all we can do to get the utilities and mortgage paid and have a little left over for groceries while juggling a stack of hospital, doctor and lab bills from month to month? It just overwhelms me and sets me on a track for a real fear-fest. Echos of “how are we going to afford…” and “where will we get that much…” begin to cripple me.
So here I sat, down to ONE line set and three reservoirs having visions of having to go back to multiple daily injections and thinking about how awful my levels would become without a base rate of insulin from the pump… I just stopped and thought, “Okay, God. You’re going to have to take care of this. I can’t see ANY way to come up with this money, so I’m going to just trust You.” It’s much easier to “trust” God when you have at least an idea of how it might be possible to make something happen. That’s why He does things like lead several million people to the edge of a sea with a murderous army pursuing them…so He can show Himself and it be known that without a doubt, there was NO WAY they could have escaped without God’s provision. (Read the story of Moses)
He erases any chance that a thing could have “just happened” or that man could have had anything whatsoever to do with it.
That’s where He had us. We were already behind on one of our big payments and thinking we would barely scrape by if we paid the big ones this week, then the lesser bills next week. Now this?
I was thinking about how I could maybe use another reservoir but reuse the same line set when this reservoir was empty. That’s risky and can cause an infection at worst or irritation at best. I was trying to think of EVERY POSSIBLE SOLUTION all the while saying, “I’m going to trust God with this.” Even though, in reality, I wasn’t really trusting Him completely. I have to say, though, I was doing better than I would have in the past. At least I hadn’t allowed myself to fall into a deep depression and cease to function. I hadn’t curled up anywhere to cry. I was actually doing better than usual, but still… I hadn’t let go of trying to solve the problem myself while I was “trusting God”.
Shame on me.
The very next day after getting the news that we would have to pay $600 of the full balance before they would let me order again, I got a text from a lady who has been doing my physical therapy. She works on Tommy’s back too, so we have both gotten to know her. She’s really sweet, but struggles with self-worth and depression too. We’d been trying to get her to come to church with us, but it hadn’t worked out so that she could. I ended up sending her this sermon after telling her it would do her a lot of good. I told her to MAKE the time to watch it when she could concentrate and pay attention. So she had called me when she got to listen to it while driving a couple hours to another town for a job. She was almost in tears and said I was right, the message was exactly what she needed to hear.
So then, the day after getting the news about having to pay the huge amount before I could order supplies, she texted to see if I was coming in for an appointment that week. I told her no, I wouldn’t be there til the next week. I forgot to mention, she is now moving to Georgia (moving this weekend, actually!!) so she said she would be gone by then but she had something to give me and could I stop by the office. I said I could come by after lunch.
When I got there, she hugged me as usual and I chit-chatted with the receptionist while my friend went to get this mysterious “thing” she had to give me. When she came back, she handed me a plain old envelope and told me not to open it until I was gone. We hugged again and said our goodbyes. She promised to keep me updated on how things were going, I told her once again she was going to do great and everything would be fine and then I left.
When I got to my car, I couldn’t stand the suspense, so I opened the envelope, which was sort of “puffy” and inside I found 10 bills totaling $70 and a note explaining.
I was floored when I saw that it was cash. I mean, what on earth? I wondered why in the world is she giving me money since I knew she was a bit worried about having enough to make the move and get settled before starting her new, better-paying job in Georgia.
The note explained that she felt led to “tithe” wherever she was spiritually fed. I’m still not sure what I think about that, but anyway, she said I had helped her so much and the content of the message I’d sent her had been exactly what she needed and she knew that was only through God.
I sat there, stunned, thinking this is God showing me He’s handling things. I mean, it’s not every day people just give me such a sum of cash, ya know? So I KNEW it was God but still, in the back of my mind I was thinking, “This is great, God, but it’s not nearly enough… but I am going to trust You still…”
When I told Tommy about it that night, he was flabbergasted too. He said it was just God giving us reassurance that He was taking care of it. He said that someone had offered to buy one of his hobby tools and that might get us another $400 so we were encouraged and went on about our lives hanging onto the peace that God would take care of it.
Yesterday when Tommy came home from work, I knew something was up. He came in telling me he HAD to tell me something. It’s always serious when he comes directly to me instead of checking on something he’s been working on in the shop.
He began telling me about going into a place where he had to buy some things for work and also some that were needed for his dad’s old pickup they’re rebuilding. I thought to myself, “Great. This is going to take forever and there’s a possibility it doesn’t even concern me at all, he’s just excited about something!” I will admit, I’m not very patient when it comes to listening to Tommy tell me some long, overly-detailed story about what they’re doing to that truck. Ha. I don’t know half of what he’s talking about and I’m not super-interested in how it’s coming along until he can tell me it’s done! He gets so excited about stuff sometimes he HAS to tell SOMEone ALL about it, and I am usually that someone. It doesn’t matter to him whether I understand him, whether I care or even if I listen for the most part… he just wants to tell it and ‘get it out’ of his system somehow. It drives me crazy because I seldom EVER do that to him. He would croak if I told him every time I got excited about finding a new way to get stains out of his clothes or if I went into great detail about how difficult it was to do my own nails or something that he has absolutely no interest in. He doesn’t seem to mind that I don’t care how many times they tried the whatsit in the thingamajig to get the whatchamacallit up to 2000 RPM’s or whatever. sigh
ANYway… this wasn’t that kind of tale, thankfully. He started telling me about talking to a lady who worked there who also has type 1 diabetes and was having a bad day with high blood sugars and when her sugar finally came down, she was feeling really awful. He then said they got to talking about supplies and insurance and it came up that we were having trouble getting my supplies. She looked at him and said, “Oh, well the way my insurance is now, I actually have some extras. I can give her at least a box of each.”
Tommy said he almost started bawling the same way I was in tears at that very moment. I was just FLOORED. So THIS is what God was planning?? And all that time I was trying to figure out where we’d find the money to just pay what absolutely had to be paid soon enough for me to not run out and all along He had it more than well in hand.
We made plans to meet her at a local store at noon today and when we got there, she handed a bag through the car window with not one, but THREE boxes each of line sets and reservoirs! I was just stunned! God had provided above and beyond what we even asked for!We thanked her profusely and then started talking.
Tommy knew she hadn’t been in church in awhile, so we invited her to go with us. She seems to want to but is hesitant. Most people are, I guess. Even when they know they need to get back in church and back on track with the Lord, we always seem to draw back as if we don’t know how much better life will be.
We told her we’d call her in the morning, so I’m praying something changes her hesitancy into eagerness or at least willingness to go with us. She’s a single mom with a young daughter so I’m really hoping she will come. Perhaps, just maybe this is the reason God lined all these things up?!
I don’t know, but once again, He has provided. I’m so thankful for His patience and His grace. Now we have time to gather the money needed to at least let me order supplies again. What the lady gave me is almost three months’ worth of supplies. CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT? We offered to give her some money (remember the $70 my friend gave me?) but she refused to take it. I was really hating to have to part with that cash if I’m being honest, but I would have given it to her if she’d taken it. I feel so ashamed that I wasn’t more willing to give it away since it was given to me. See? I am still struggling with feeling a sense of want.
All the more reason I am SOOOO thankful God is patient with me.
Has anything like this ever happened to you? Do you worry about money too? If so, how do you deal with it?
Do you ever think to yourself (or say out loud?) “I don’t deserve this.” Like,
“I didn’t deserve to be talked back to like that by my teenager.”
“I didn’t deserve that put-down from my husband/wife.”
“I didn’t deserve that reprimand from my boss.”
If you’re like 99.999% of the human race, you HAVE had that thought in one situation or more. Or at least you have thought that it wasn’t fair that you were treated in whatever way.
Isn’t that how we think? We humans?
Earlier this week, I was going through my devotion on YouVersion in the book of Numbers (chapter 16) when I read this:::
32And the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, with their households and all the people who belonged to Korah and all their goods. So they and all that belonged to them went down alive into Sheol, and the earth closed over them, and they perished from the midst of the assembly.
This is the story of when Moses led the Hebrews out of Egypt…after all the plagues and Pharoh following them into the Red Sea. The Hebrews have seen God part the Red Sea and allow them to cross on dry ground (that always blows my mind…that the ground was DRY), they’ve seen manna appear on the ground, they’ve seen God send hundreds of pheasants to feed them, they’ve seen the pillar of cloud and fire that leads them. They have SEEN God do so many miracles on their behalf.
When I younger, I would think to myself, “WHAT IS WRONG WITH THOSE PEOPLE!! THEY LITERALLY SAW THE HAND OF GOD MOVE RIGHT IN FRONT OF THEM AND THEY STILL COMPLAINED?!?!?”
I guess wisdom really does come with age since now, I often find that I’m giving myself a good talking-to about not trusting God to take care of things since I have, yes, ****I HAVE SEEN GOD’S HAND MOVE IN FRONT OF MY OWN EYES**** before as well.
And so this Korah guy and a couple of his buddies decide there needs to be a change in management. They decide Moses, God’s chosen leader, isn’t doing a good enough job (red flag: it may have been Moses they were looking at, but it was God they were rebelling against!) They decide they’re going to get folks all riled up and force Moses out and replace him with someone they think can do better.
If you’re a pastor or any sort of church or even a business leader, you know how this goes. No matter what you do, some of the people aren’t going to be satisfied. At least part, if not all, of the people you ‘lead’ or shepherd aren’t going to be happy with the way you do things, no matter how much you pray, no matter how whole-heartedly you seek for God’s guidance…SOMEbody out there is going to be displeased and they’re either going to tell you about it — repeatedly — or they’re going to tell everyone else about it until the whole place is having doubts about your abilities.
ahem I can save THAT sermon for another post, heh let me get back on my thought… What struck me upon reading that, or rather hearing it since I was playing the scripture on my phone, was OH MY GOODNESS!! What if God still did that kind of thing today?? What if He opened the earth to swallow us up when we grumbled or complained? What if He wasn’t longsuffering and merciful? What if He gave us exactly what we deserve instead of what we could never earn by ourselves?
Now, let me say this before someone out there who isn’t sure they like God or want to believe in Him or follow Him says, “That does it! I don’t want to serve a God Who acts so impulsively.” I don’t believe God acted on impulse. You can read again and again throughout Numbers how the Hebrews, God’s chosen people, rebelled over and over. They’d already been in the desert for a long time when this happened. There had been many an uprising during this time. The people had griped, grumbled and whined about everything. They EVEN went so far as to say they’d have been better off as slaves beaten and overworked, unfairly treated, than to have God lead them out into this forsaken desert.
I can’t quite imagine that, but I try not to judge them too harshly. But I will admit, when I read this account I find myself ALWAYS wanting to smack a bunch-a Hebrews up-side the head and say, “ARE YOU KIDDING ME RIGHT NOW?” I believe that Korah and the others had done this same thing several times already. I think they were probably always trying to stir up discontentment and division among the Hebrew congregation. I don’t KNOW that, but I know that God isn’t reactionary. He’s not a God who makes ‘snap judgements’ or ‘goes off’ on people. I mean, c’MON…if He did, do you think the world would be the way it is today?
No, God is and always has been long-suffering. If He wasn’t merciful, He would have left them all in bondage in Egypt. He’d have gone looking for other people to call His own, I daresay.
And that brings me to thinking about myself and how I am constantly failing God in one way or other (or multiple ways!) It’s like that little saying or meme you see sometimes…
So, here’s my thought before I get side-tracked… I am SO THANKFUL that God isn’t in the business of giving us “what we deserve”. If He was, then WE would have been swallowed up, sent alive to our “just desserts”, an eternity in hellfire!
That IS what we deserve, after all. It’s so easy to lose sight of that in our comfy lives where we don’t have to fight for food or shelter every day. We think we “deserve” to have things go our way. We think we’re good. Whether because we’re unaware of what God did for us in sending Jesus to shoulder our punishment or we think we’re “okay” since we “serve God”…we attend church once a week or we volunteer at the soup kitchen…whatever.
But we don’t even deserve to breathe. We certainly don’t deserve the opportunity to live out eternity in heaven with Jesus. But He still came
You know how things become “hip” and “trendy” so fast these days. Like the one that immediately comes to mind (and is very much done, for the most part, so yeah, it’s old, but it was super-annoying!) is the RickRoll (<–click the link for definition & lengthy exposition of the rickrolling phenomenon).
Or that meme that you find repeatedly or in various forms all over social media and the internet in general. Like, it become a sort of techno-folklore type of thing. (overused memes, linked in case you’re confused about what I mean…ha!)
OR (yes, I’m getting to my point here…) like all those baby-fied Noah/Noah’s ark things. All sorts of things…baby toys, wallpaper border, wall hangings, bed sets, play sets, notebooks, stationery…you name it! It has or has had something that was Noah-ark themed made of it.
I never got into that. I didn’t give my boys any things that were made that way. To drive the point home for you, check out this link! I mean, it’s like Noah’s ark-o-rama! GAH!
Now, the above photo depicts, among other things, some top-notch cake-decorating skills but also is representative of my point that the whole story of Noah has been turned into a children’s story at best; a fairytale at worst! This cake is for a baby shower. It’s adorable, don’t get me wrong. But the theme, the actual story, whether the person who ordered it believes it’s truth or fiction, is really a little questionable. This is from a “story” (for lack of a better word right now) about when God found the earth so corrupt and wicked that He found it necessary to wipe the slate clean. A time when He instructed the one moral man He could find who still followed God’s teachings to build a gigantic vessel (that took over ONE HUNDRED YEARS to build, by the way) for a nature event that had never yet happened (it had never rained at all, let alone flooded!) and then to fill it with two of EVERY creature on earth (plus the extra ones God instructed Noah to take).
Can you even imagine? That’s what gets me every time. What a wholly unfathomable idea it all was…
I can remember when my boys were young and we were homeschooling when we came to the scripture about Noah. Often, I’d take the boys outside to read the Bible to them and we would talk about what we had read. I can recall how it just hit me suddenly what a gigantic faith Noah had to have. I mean, at that time, the earth sort of “watered itself”. The dew was sufficient to create enough water to sustain all the vegetation in the world and even to supply all the people with enough water.
I’m drawing from my reading of Many Waters, by A Wrinkle In Time author, Madeleine L’Engle.
The Wrinkle in Time Quintet Boxed Set (A Wrinkle in Time, A Wind in the Door, A Swiftly Tilting Planet, Many Waters, An Acceptable Time)
(I love this series of books and recommend you give them a read if you haven’t already!)
Ahem! So when I say that, I mean that in Many Waters, the imagery was that of a dry, arid atmosphere. Like a desert, I guess. And scripture doesn’t indicate if there was a body of water nearby, so I really don’t know if they could, at that time, even imagine what sort of thing was about to happen or why in the world they would need to build such a “contraption” as the ark. Who knows? Perhaps they had never seen any sort of boat before?
I tried to get across to the boys how HUGE Noah’s faith had to be for him to just go ahead and do what God told him when he had never seen or even heard of rain or a flood before. I told them it would be like God telling them to build a gigantic whatchamajigger (because they wouldn’t know whatever word God would use… they wouldn’t understand what He was talking about if they’d never seen it before, if it had never even happened before) because purple, singing flowers were going to fall from the sky.
What if God told you something like that? Don’t you imagine it was along the same lines with Noah? I can almost imagine this sort of conversation happening…
“Yes, I’m going to send water down from the sky. Yes, I know it usually appears on all the leaves. But I will…yes. Yes, I know you’ve never seen water come out of the sky before, but I am going to do it that way this time. Yes…enough to cover the entire earth. Yes, Noah, I know you’ve never seen that much water in your life. I know you can’t imagine it. It’s okay though. I always do what I say I will do and this time won’t be any different. Just trust in Me, do what I ask you to and you will get to see something that has never ever happened on earth before!”
Wouldn’t it be the same way for us? I honestly wonder if Noah even questioned what God was talking about, or maybe he wasn’t fully aware. I really think about this thing a lot.
I really think about this thing a lot.
I mean, did Noah just trust God so fully and completely that he didn’t even bat an eye? That’s pretty awe inspiring if you ask me. And here I sit, questioning and wondering if God can or will help us be able to pay our bills or do something or other, and I fret and worry about it. What a little-faith-er I am!! I can’t even have faith that God will sustain us with the things we need let alone to do something outlandish and be considered crazy by the world just because He said to.
I had big plans of showing how various factions of society look at or consider the Ark and the whole story of Noah. From the hostile to the mocking to the sold-out to the “adventurer/historian/myth-buster”. There are all kinds of opinions and views about Noah’s Ark. It’s probably one of the most visible, socially acceptable stories in the Bible, even when it’s completely wrong or based in emotion. You may come across a representation of the ark anywhere!
Go read the account of the ark with this in mind. Think of how they lived back then, think of what it was like to live that way and how it would be to have God ask you something like that in a time of such rampant evil and violence….
“The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” ~Genesis 6:5
ADDENDUM: I had this all ready to go Tuesday, feeling SO guilty for not having posted SOMEthing already when Chrome locked up on me. (for some reason, it hates when I try to load a “featured image” argh!) so I fiddled with trying to get it to work until I gave up. I’ve had major neck/shoulder pain for months & now that’s worse (plus this morning, my left jaw is killing me?!?!) so I went to lie down with an ice pack hoping to ease the pain some. I ended up falling asleep and waking to the phone ringing. It was Tommy & he’d apparently called a few times already. He kept saying, “Go check your sugar!” I kept saying, “It’s too cold!” but I finally realized I must have been really low (I was in the freezing stage after sweating so much the sheets were wet!) So I tested: 35. Sheesh! Anyhow, I never got around to posting this yesterday… Argh! #stupiddiabetes )
Seriously! I completely missed posting anything this past “frankly friday”! In my defense, it has been cray-ZEE around here.
Tommy and I are both serving Emmaus walks this month. He just got back Sunday evening. We are now a one-vehicle family until he gets this other truck fixed, so I took him down to camp Thursday afternoon. It was hotter than blue blazes and I was sweating like a racehorse, but they needed some help, so I stayed and assisted doing what I could.
I had been given the “community laptop” a week or so earlier by the lady who usually keeps it since she’s moving out of town and told to give it to the director of the women’s walk. It never dawned on me that they would need it for the men’s walk too. Heh. So, there I stood like a doofus with them asking me where it was. “Hey, I was told to give it to her! That’s what I planned to do!… NEXT week!” LOL! So, I needed to drive the 30 miles back home to get that computer and bring back.
Which was fine, but I didn’t plan on not getting to head out til after 10:30 that night!! I will be serving as the prayer team coordinator, which I’ve done before, so it’s not a huge deal, but our daughter-in-law Taylor has been asked to be dining room coordinator, and she’s never even served on the dining room team before, so she’s a little stressed. Anyhow, I’ve been DR Coord many times so I’ve been trying to help her with tips and ideas. That position requires decorating the dining room for each meal and moving the tables into the various formations Emmaus uses. That most often means borrowing decor from anyone who might be willing to loan what you need. After doing this so many times, a few times at the last minute, I’ve gotten to where I try to do the most with the least amount of stuff possible. It’s a lot of on-your-feet, hurry-hurry-wait-hurry sort of stuff. All day, every day! You also serve the meals and help clean the tables, so it can feel like you never get to sit down. It’s fun, the decorating can be a blast, but it is definitely physical and tiring!
So anyway, I had told Taylor I’d pick up some of the stuff from a lady there at camp so she wouldn’t have to make the trip. Once I got to her house, she got a visitor, someone I also knew but not very well. As I sat there, watching it get darker and darker outside while they chatted about stuff I wasn’t in the loop on, I started thinking about how late it was going to be getting back with that laptop.
LOL… so finally, company left and I loaded the box into the truck, drove straight home where all the dogs were waiting to be fed, the chickens to be watered, eggs to be gathered and then there was Max, who was nasty and needed a bath before he’d be fit to be in the house!
Once I got Max bathed and dried, I fixed myself a bite to eat. It was now a little after 11 pm. I contemplated just waiting to take the laptop early the next morning, but decided I did NOT want to get up at 6 am and drive down there and straight back (OR get caught down there doing something or other! LOL) so I loaded Max and the computer and took off.
Everyone seemed to have turned in already, so I left the laptop in the dark Agape room and headed straight back home. Tommy called me about the time I got back to the interstate, floored that I’d already come and gone. I didn’t want to wander around the men’s camp looking for him, and it was so late, I thought maybe he’d gone to bed. Anyhow, by the time I got home the second time, it was about 11:45 or so.
I collapsed on the couch and thought, “I should sleep really good.” only… I couldn’t fall asleep. I wasn’t even feeling a little sleepy. SHEESH!
This happens to me all the time. There’s something about Tommy being gone that keeps me from sleeping. It’s not really that I’m afraid or that I hear every little noise, whatever… I just can’t rest. Maybe it’s from all the years he worked construction and when I’d finally go to bed after getting too tired to wait up, just about the time I’d fall asleep, he’d get home and wake me up showering and getting into bed. Then it would take me another hour to fall back to sleep. Maybe I just got used to that?? I dunno, but whatever it is, I can’t sleep when he’s gone, so it was after 3 am before I finally crawled into bed and slept.
The next morning (er, afternoon?) I woke up just in time to realize I would miss the hair appointment I’d made. ARGH! I need my hair cut in THE worst way! I called my stylist, who is also an Emmaus friend and she informs me that she was getting ready to call me because she was worried. sigh I explained and apologized. She didn’t have another opening til Wednesday, so I’m still having to put up with this horrible hair!
I felt kinda crampy and my neck/shoulder has been a lot worse lately, so I didn’t get much accomplished other than a little laundry and a few dishes. I worked on lists and schedules for the prayer team and later I went up to Taylor’s to help paint some decor she’d bought for camp. I sat and visited with her and Casey while they ate supper, too so that was nice.
I rested a little better that night, but it was after midnight before I could fall asleep. Saturday was busy since our eldest son, Corey, was going to be singing at camp that night for dinner and during special service. I wanted to catch a ride with someone but wasn’t able to, so I ended up driving back home around 10 pm by myself again. Ugh.
Sunday, I had to go serve at church for the early service, so when I got done there, after service, I drove through Wendy’s and got a bite to eat and headed on home. I ate my food and flopped back into bed. By now, the cramping was pretty constant so I didn’t feel much good at all. I slept til about 2 pm when I got up and started getting ready to head back to camp for closing.
By the time I had checked on the things and talked to the people I needed to in prep for the next weekend, and we stopped for supper, it was about 8 pm by the time we got home and Tommy was exhausted and ready to hit the hay. And so, we did. LOL!
I woke up around 11 pm, got up and took my night meds and went back to bed. Tommy might have got up once to use the bathroom, but otherwise, he slept til time to get up for work the next morning.
So now I’m working to get the rest of my stuff prepared for the weekend (which will begin Thursday) and help Taylor finish the rest of her stuff for dining room. I still have to pack my clothes and stuff, but think I’ll wait til I get back from my hair appointment tomorrow. I also have to stop by the store and pick up some things I’ll need down at camp.
Right now, I’m trying to get some focus, some ‘stress-relief’, some ‘stop worrying’… ha. I always love working at camp. It’s such a beautiful place and working with other Jesus-loving people is always a great refresher for my soul. Seeing God move in people’s lives is a great blessing too!
Now I need to go post the link to the 72-hour prayer vigil again. I still have lots of spaces to fill before Thursday! If you’d like to help by taking a 30-minute prayer slot, please use THIS LINK! And THANK YOU!
Happy Monday, y’all! I hope you guys had a great weekend. Ours was awesome because our baby-kids returned home from Haiti after being there for two weeks! It was great to finally have them back!
I just have to say, not to brag or to put down anyone else’s church in any way, but I just love my church. It’s huge in comparison to any other church I’ve ever attended, but it doesn’t feel huge and the preaching is just so phenomenal and so applicable. It isn’t that we hear only feel-good sermons, the way many in our area believe. Quite the contrary!! Many times my hubby and I leave church feeling very humbled and challenged to do better, to improve ourselves and always be transforming ourselves to be more like Jesus!
So Pastor Trevor’s latest series is called “Sweet Spot” and concerns the giving of spiritual gifts from God to His children. It’s about the fact that each of us are given specific spiritual gifts and that we should discover and hone them, leverage them for the kingdom of God. Use them to help others and lead them to faith in Christ!
Here’s the link we were given to take a test that will help determine our spiritual giftings: Spiritual Gifts Questionaire Almost all of our family have taken the test and some of us spent Saturday evening comparing and sharing how we ranked.
I have to say I was a little surprised by my scores. Granted, there are some statements on the test that are a little ambiguous and so I answered “neutral” to many when I was either unsure of what it was saying exactly or when it seemed to have two parts and I would feel one way about the first part and another about the second. I may go back and take it again in a few weeks and see how I score then.
As for the first attempt, I scored very 5/5 in teaching. Not super-surprising. I am the eldest child and we tend to be teachers by design. I homeschooled my children through high school, so yes, I wasn’t shocked to score high in that area, although I don’t really consider myself a good teacher.
I may tend to be a little impatient which is probably why my second high score was in prophecy. Hmm. Now, before you jump to the usual conclusion about what ‘prophecy’ means or what it means to be considered a prophet, let me explain that the gift of prophecy is not about foretelling. As Pastor Trevor so aptly put it, “It’s about forth-telling.” Meaning it’s about seeing potential and being pretty honest with our opinions.
That makes much more sense to me!
Yesterday’s sermon was about prophets and their strengths and weaknesses. About how prophets are perceived and misunderstood sometimes. It was a really great sermon and I can’t wait for the rest of them! I’m really glad that I won’t miss out on any due to the Orlando trip to MasterLab 2016 next week, too!
The big picture of this series is that we are responsible for using whatever spiritual gift we’ve been given for God’s purposes. We’re responsible for figuring out what that gift is, and to realize that no one alone is fully equipped to be a spiritual “multi-tool”. We are, as Romans 12 tells us, many separate members of one body and a member or “part” on its own, is limited to what it can do and only what it can do. When working in conjunction with the rest of the parts, a body and therefore its parts, can be much more productive.
Of course, we have all heard the sayings about “teamwork” and “many hands make light work” and such. This is not a new idea, but it bears repeating because we always seem to need the reminder!
Some points that were brought to light about the fact that each person has different gifts and different abilities to use those gifts, so that none of us are the same which can lead to different approaches, ideas and ultimately, misunderstandings.
We need to remember always that we were created by and for God…made ON purpose, FOR a purpose! We are created as originals and should not attempt to be or settle for being a duplicate.
When it comes to the individuality of our gifts, we can misunderstand each other because of our misconceptions of one another. Since we see EVERYTHING through the lens of our particular giftings, whether we realize it or not, sometimes we don’t understand the words and actions of someone who is also viewing the world through their own particular gifts…gifts that are not like ours and whose strengths are not the same as our own.
And we must understand this: Our spiritual gifts are not about having an ability as much as the capacity to develop an ability. Think about that one for a sec. It’s not necessarily that we are ‘bestowed’ with a particular gift but that we discover and develop the gift! We have to invest ourselves in it.
Since the sermon focused on the prophet, Trevor gave us the characteristics, challenges, potential dangers for and public perception of the prophet.
As a person who scored high in the gift of prophecy, I could relate to so many of these! Things like the fact that as prophets, we are rather opinionated, we see the “wrong” first, we’re impatient, we tend to be loners or prefer isolation, we are highly intolerant of dishonesty, very transparent in that we are very much WYSIWYG…‘what-you-see-is-what-you-get’ and we want justice to be served.
Our challenges are not being very good one-on-one (even though we don’t much like crowds), we’re suspicious, never taking things at face-value, we tend to jump to conclusions and over-think things, we have a tendency to be (or at least appear!) bossy and super-negative, and others (especially those gifted with service and mercy) tend to see us a completely tactless in the way we speak to people.
The dangers we must watch out for are the tendency to be easily depressed and discouraged (hello!)…we see the wrong first, remember? We want it to be righted and sometimes that can be overwhelming. Even when it’s a “wrong” in our own lives. My experience is that this is the worst of all. If I feel powerless to fix what’s wrong in my own life, then I tend to just give up on anything else. I feel unworthy to mention it let alone fix it. For me, these feelings stem mostly from feeling out of control where my health/body is concerned. Feeling exhausted so much of the time doesn’t lead to an organized life or clean home, ya know? WANTING these things done and being able to accomplish them are two entirely different things! sigh
Another danger is we find it hard to forgive. Thank God, He’s been working on me in this area for many years and I’m getting lots better at this, but it is still a struggle! We tend to default to anger and bitterness. I think this also links back to our struggles with depression. We can become prideful and we find it easier to rebuke than restore.
That last one explained why I didn’t score higher as an encourager the way I thought I would! Seriously, this whole blog is about my desire to encourage others to stay positive, to never give up! But when I read that, “finds it easier to rebuke than restore” it made me realize that this is so true of me. I feel like it’s being encouraging, but others see it as rebuke or scolding! When I say, “Pick yourself up, put your big kid pants on and get on with it!” it’s not seen as super-encouraging! Hahaha! And what’s really funny is that I wouldn’t see it that way either if it were directed at me. So… I have a big task here to be a bit more soft and gentle with my “encouragement”. Although… I still think sometimes people just need a good (but loving! -haha!) kick in the pants to see that they are just wallowing in self-pity.
Ahem. Maybe I have more work to do than I thought. grin
So, to conclude Trevor made clear that we all need prophets in our lives but we need to learn to understand them as much as they need to learn how to interact better with those who are not prophet-personalities.
Wow…see why I can’t wait for the rest of the series? I’m anxious to hear about server-personalities since my Tommy is one and those who scored high in mercy (Taylor) and those who may have scored equally in several areas the way Casey did and those who scored almost equally in teaching and administration the way Corey did. I haven’t seen Melissa’s score, but I suspect she would probably fall into server or administrator? It will be interesting to see.
I pray this whole thing helps us all to communicate better with each other and those around us!
What do you think about this sort of “personality” testing to determine spiritual gifts? Have you taken one? How did you score? Can you see other traits from reading my blog?
Oh…here’s the sermon too. (NOTE: when I posted this link, the video was not yet uploaded. Check back. It will be available soon but look over the notes and group questions in the meantime!) Go watch it, and go back to watch the first one too. I think you’ll love it!
I have a question for you…
What is the difference between a small-town girl from Appalachia and a Muslim? Sounds like the opener for a bad joke, doesn’t it? But stick with me…and think about it.
What is the difference? Not as much as you’d think.
We both have families. We both have feelings, baggage, opinions, worries. We both have skin and bones, health issues perhaps, concerns about the future. We both need love, just as everyone ever born has an innate need to be loved.
Is that surprising? Is it surprising to realize there are so many similarities or that I personally would find so much in common with a Muslim? Hmm…
Several years ago, I would have probably been insulted if you had suggested that I had anything at all in common with a professing Muslim. Like so, SO many people, in my mind, Muslim was the equivalent of “terrorist”.
A couple of years ago, an Iranian-American (because he tells you how proud he is to have become an American citizen) came to our church to preach and tell us about his mission to plant churches in the Burbank, Califonia area for the tens of thousands of Armenian people there.
I instantly fell in love with Ara Torosian. He’s the sweetest little man and I guess the ever-present smile on his round face is what makes me call him “little”. He’s just a precious person. He came to visit us again this past weekend.
Ara was born in Tehran, Iran to an Armenian family. He never saw a Bible or attended church or had any exposure to a Christian lifestyle. He was on the path to becoming a highly-paid soccer player, but God stepped in and revealed to Ara a different path. How unbelievably good He is!
Ara discovered Jesus on his own, as he explored other religions, trying to sort out for himself the faith of those who were not Muslim. He said what struck him was the love that was spoken of so much in the Bible. He didn’t know that love in his own life, it wasn’t taught or spoken of in his religion. He didn’t have the peace that Jesus promised and that is something he wanted.
Praise God Ara was responsive to the call into ministry! He became a Christian, something that was illegal for him! And he began to talk about that “joy of the Lord” to his family and friends.
When you hear the love and joy in his voice as he talks about how far things have come in his church-planting mission, when he speaks of the huge number of Armenians and Farsi-speaking people living in the L.A./Burbank area who had not one single place to learn about and worship Jesus, you know where his passion lies.
You think he must have had a wonderful life… then you hear the rest of his story. Ara was betrayed to the police in Iran for smuggling Bibles. Betrayed by a friend, then repeatedly tortured to give up more names of fellow Christians, Ara endured much physical and emotional pain. Until he speaks of that time in his life, you would never suspect he had dealt with anything like that. That’s the joy of Jesus that can overcome a painful past. That’s the peace of forgiving the unforgivable through Jesus.
I was so touched when Ara spoke of his love for the Muslim community and his flocks in the churches back in California. When he talked about the fact that he had no problem with a Muslim person…you may think, “Of course not, since he was one before.” but you see, we as Americans, especially as American Christians, should not have a problem with Muslims either. Our issue, as Ara pointed out, is with Islam, not the people. Islam is the problem but we should continue to love the people.
When did we forget about love?
I have attended churches in the past that had such small- and narrow-minded ideas of others. Not just Muslims, but anyone who didn’t act, dress or believe like they did. I was always so uncomfortable with this thought, but couldn’t articulate for myself why it made me feel “icky”. Where exactly is that teaching in the Bible?
Nowhere. Jesus was never exclusive. He called sin “sin” and charged hypocrites with their misdeeds, but he was never hateful to someone merely for being different than Him. Where did we come up with the idea that it’s okay for us to do that?
Just because SOME people who identify as Muslim have done terrible things doesn’t give us the right to write off ALL Muslim people. Have we forgotten the crusades that are always thrown in our faces when we try to talk to non-believers? They were horrible, unthinkable acts of cruelty and murder against others for simply not believing in Jesus.
Read that last sentence again and think about it…how exactly is that different than what Islam seeks to do?
The only difference here is that while the book of Islam actually teaches its readers to do this sort of thing, Jesus does not. Jesus gave Himself over to His murders knowing full well what they were about to do.
Now, do I think we should lay down and let the ideals of Islam go unanswered when confronted with them? No, but I think the discourse should be undertaken with love, not hate, not fear and confusion, not chaos and not in a reactionary way. We have to start doing things differently.
I’m the most NON-international person you’d ever want to meet. I’m the consummate homebody from Kentucky. You may have guessed, if you read about my upcoming trip to Florida…on a plane…when I’ve never EVER flown and never EVER gone so far away by myself, that I’m really NOT the kind of person who is comfortable or knowledgeable about people from other countries or cultures.
Thanks to the internet, I have “met” people of many different backgrounds, many different nationalities and customs. I have not always been very good at accepting or trying to understand the differences, but I am doing my best. We are all descended from Adam, after all. Have you forgotten that? I tend to forget sometimes. We are all brothers and sisters and as such, I believe we should be willing to give grace, to speak in love, to reach out and approach each other with understanding and patience.
I guess I’m trying to say if you have been someone like me, someone raised and taught either in church or at home to hate (or at least STRONGLY dislike) those who are not like you, then you need to re-educate yourself. You need to look again at the scripture you’ve been using to justify your actions and words. You need to assess the attitude of Jesus toward people in general and to mimic that as much as you can! Oh, to be like Jesus! If we could all only keep our focus on Him, what a wonderful world it would be, huh? I guess that’s why there’s a heaven, right? Heh.
I believe the Bible means what it says in John 3:16 “For God so loved THE WORLD that he gave his only begotten Son, that WHOSOEVER believeth on Him should have everlasting life.” That’s my KJV memorization at work and the emphasis is my own, of course, but let’s don’t lose sight of the impact those words have…THE WHOLE WORLD…WHOSOEVER IN THE WHOLE WORLD…
I am going to link Ara’s Facebook profile here and give you this link to the North American Missions Board, through which Ara works and THIS link is to NAMB’s articles about Ara if you want to learn more or read his testimony. You can donate to help Ara’s church planting mission here. The church Ara started is called Armenian Fellowship Church of Burbank. You can visit the church’s website by clicking the link in the previous sentence. And here’s the link for Ara’s sermon this past weekend at The Creek Church.
I’m so privileged to have met and heard Ara preach. He has surely opened my eyes to the fact that we are all the same on the inside and just because the media only promotes stories of the misdeeds of both Muslims and Christians (and anybody else, for that matter) doesn’t mean I should fear them. They need God’s love just as much as anyone else.
Lord, help me to see with Your eyes and not focus on the outward differences and love people the way You do.
Wanna talk about this? I love to discuss!
Sorry guys. This week’s Frankly Friday has been canceled due to the fact that this weekend Tommy and I will be attending LIFE Retreat AND the fact that I can’t seem to feel rested even if I slept 25 hours a day! ARGH!
Seriously, I am dealing with some monster fatigue up in here. I’m sleeping probably 8-12 hours “at night” (which means most of the morning) and then most days, I’ll feel a wave of exhaustion hit me and need a flippin’ nap on top of that!
NOT good and NOT fun. I’m SO tired of being SO TIRED!! I’m going to call my GP and get another B-12 shot even though I’ve never been able to tell a big difference with the couple I’ve gotten before. I also think I’ll ask her for another course of mega-D and see if any of that helps. I just can’t figure it out. Obviously, I’m not nearly as active but really, there seems to be no reason for this…no new meds or any sort of new stress that would keep me so wiped out.
ANYway, I’m sorry about letting FF slip up on me and not having anything prepared. I’ve come to look forward to posting something interesting for FF. Please forgive me and look for some exciting news from our LIFE Retreat!
We go down in a couple hours for the start of it this evening and then back in the morning for more. I really don’t know much about it so that’s about all I got for now. This is the “finale”, if you will, of our 13-week study we’ve been doing on Thursdays. It’s been great and after our initial hesitation about joining, we are both really glad we did. It’s been fun getting closer to the others in the group, growing and sharing our insights about the lessons. I’m looking forward to seeing what it’s all about. They’re sorta secretive about this thing. Ha ha!
I wish you all an awesome weekend and PLEASE continue leaving me your travel tips! A carry-on packing list or at least essentials would be good. Also for two days, can I get by with no checked bag? That would be great. I would probably get lost between the plane and baggage claim and get left behind. There I go again with the negativity. It’s a constant battle!