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!
Hey y’all! Hope your week is off to an amazing start. I am running on less than 10 hours sleep today, so that’s progress! (I’m not joking!)
But enough about my terrible lack of energy these days…
We had another tremendous sermon yesterday. This whole series has been SO wonderful and SO needed! We all have mental and emotional stuff…baggage, garbage, whatever you wanna call it. We all have it, unfortunately. Some of us create our own and some have other people who create it for us, but either way, it’s not healthy and if we are having major struggles with our emotional “junk” then we can’t be as spiritually healthy as we need to be and can be!
So yesterday’s message was about insecurity. Insecurity is defined as so:
uncertainty or anxiety about oneself; lack of confidence.
Pretty common knowledge, right? Yeah, so what can contribute to insecurity? One of the things Pastor Trevor brought up was the fact that we have these “competing identities”. For instance:
the way you see “you”
the way others see “you”
the way you *think* others see “you”
the way you can’t see yourself due to your *ideas* of “you”
the way you *think* “you” should look/be
the way you *think* God sees “you”
the way God *actually* sees “you”
Like most anything else, when it comes to reality, our minds…our self-imposed ideas of what should or should not be…our way of letting others dictate how we view things can really mess up what God has created. We have to learn to replace our faulty, deceptive way of thinking with the truth of God’s word.
The way WE see ourselves can be really distorted by our own faulty thinking or by the way others have described us. The way others see us can also be a distortion depending on their own individual emotional “stuff” and the way they filter information about the world around them. If they’ve been sort-of *programmed* (for lack of a better word right now) to be negative about things, they are liable to only see the flaws in everything/one else! If a person has been “taught” to have a low view of themselves, they are likely to not even notice anyone around them due to thinking they’re so unworthy or unwanted. See? Most of the times, others will see us a lot closer to reality unless we are “putting on a show” and pretending to be something we’re not.
“O Lord God, do not turn away the face of your anointed one! Remember your steadfast love for David your servant.” ~2 Chronicles 6:42
The way others see us can also be a distortion depending on their own individual emotional “stuff” and the way they filter information about the world around them. If they’ve been sort-of *programmed* (for lack of a better word right now) to be negative about things, they are liable to only see the flaws in everything/one else! If a person has been “taught” to have a low view of themselves, they are likely to not even notice anyone around them due to thinking they’re so unworthy or unwanted. See? Most of the time, however, others will see us a lot closer to reality unless we are “putting on a show” and pretending to be something we’re not.
The way we THINK others see us is almost always incorrect. Even more so if we have an unhealthy of our own selves. Of course, how we feel and think about ourselves factors heavily into this. If we are thinking in unhealthy and deceptive ways about ourselves, we will automatically believe others see us the same way.
The way we see ourselves is largely based on the ideas and ideals we have. If we have lopsided ideas about ourselves, we’re obviously NOT going to be able to see ourselves with truth. It’s one of those can’t-see-the-forest-for-the-trees situations. We can’t see our true self for all the bad ideas we have, all the deceptive ideals we’ve created about who we are.
This goes along with the way we THINK we should look or be. Almost ALL the time this is going to be due to influences around us. The way our parents raised us or talked to us, the way our friends have treated us or persuaded us to feel/think. Many times, it’s also clouded with lots of untruths and unfair comparisons.
How we THINK God sees us can be unbelievably skewed and affected by many different experiences we’ve had thus far in our lives.
There are tons of bad theology out there about how God sees His children! For instance, a theology that says you have to “do” certain things or “be” a certain way in order for God to love you or sometimes to even receive salvation!
I have one word to say about this kind of “religion”: RUN! Fast and far. Jesus loves us where we are. He died for us before we even knew Him. He’s not waiting for you to fulfill a checklist of tasks before He will love you. (sorry for this rabbit trail!) So, obviously, there are LOTS of ways we mess up the way God actually sees us because of how we THINK He sees us. Stop putting God in a box!
“He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?”
How can I know how God *actually* sees me? That’s the easiest part. He used all these people through several centuries to write His love letter to the world. All of it is contained in the Bible. To know God’s heart, His will for you, the way He sees you … read His word! Once you start immersing yourself in scripture, you will begin to see His will, His guiding hand, all over your life and you’ll be more at peace when the path starts to get a little bumpy.
Hey y’all. I’m working so hard, trying to increase traffic here…build an audience, a subscription list, whatever else a successful blogger does. Most of the time, I feel like I’m just flopping around, splashing water into the floor, making a mess.
I see some steadiness in the amount of traffic, so I suspect some of you are just awesomely loyal readers and probably close friends who stop by often to see what crazy thing I’ve posted. I am so thankful for you!
I know I’ve said it before, but this blogging thing is a big deal to me. I started it after months and months of stewing and praying about whether I should even try. I’ve blogged off and on for about 16 years, so it seemed like the natural thing for me to do…try to monetize the thing I am so passionate about. I felt (and still feel, btw) that God was really nudging me in this direction and so, even though I didn’t feel completely ready, I took the plunge. I plopped down what little was left from our tax refund and started this site.
Looking back, a month later now, I see many mistakes. I think most of them are easily overcome though and not the kind that will break me or the blog. I still don’t understand stupid AdSense or why my husband can get an account with them like snap that and me, with my two (now three!) google accounts, can’t get any of them approved. I’m not sure I’m missing much though. I’m learning that AdSense isn’t the end-all-be-all it has been purported to be, so I have pursued other means of generating income through my blog.
Some of them I am pleased about, and some I will be glad when I can be done with. And no, for the record, I haven’t made a single cent so far. That really concerns me, but I have to remind myself how new it all is. I can’t do it all at once and I need to be patient.
But BOY, is that hard!!
Today, when I went to look at a “blogging schedule” thingie I got from the web, for today it says to post about relaxing. BAHAHAHA!! What is that even?!? I don’t have time right now to relax, and certainly not about the state of my blog. Some of these ‘blog helps’ aren’t really geared toward me, ya know? Many of the blogs in these groups are about how to create a successful website, how to find a niche to build, how to monetize and market whatever you are selling.
I just wanna share life with my readers. I want to encourage and inspire. I want my readers to leave feeling better than they did when they pulled up my site. I want them to find the courage to go on, the determination to stick it out. The comfort of knowing they are not alone, the peace of knowing someone else out here has been where they are. I want the person with t1d to find a friend, someone to commiserate with and rejoice in whatever victories we accomplish as PWD’s. (persons with diabetes)
I want the homeschooling mom to know she can do it and I know she can because I did it. I want her to know that the great mistake she feels she’s made is not the end. That she and her children are far better off just because she tried to teach them at home, whether she continues or not. And no matter what, as long as she is trying to do her very best for her kids, she is a winner!
I want that couple who is struggling with some sexual incompatibility or physical problem to know they are not alone. I want them to realize it’s okay to talk about it and that there are people out here who can help, both professionals and people like me who have been there, done that. I want that woman to know she’s not the first or only one to be facing what she is, and that she need not bury herself in depression and self-hatred or guilt because there is hope. I want to keep her and her husband from living the hell that we did for 30 years and to find healing and hope!
More than all this, I want people to know there is hope, no matter what the situation is, there is hope. There is peace to be had, no matter how big the mess or how damaged their soul, Peace is there for the asking in the person of Jesus Christ. I want them to know that it is because of Jesus that I am alive today. That I’m able to share and talk about the issues, struggles and problems in my life. Ultimately, I believe this is the reason God has been urging me to write.
I haven’t touched my book in over 6 months, but perhaps soon I’ll dig back into it. I still feel He is calling me to write it, but I’m at another crossroad about which direction to take with it. (ANY feedback would be appreciated on this, folks!!) The book has lived in my head for many years as a sort-of memoir, a story of my life and how I have dealt with diabetes, the depression and all the other physical and emotional side effects of having a chronic disease for so long. However, as we have come to this place of healing in our marriage, I feel THAT is also a topic that needs to be shared. It, of course, is much more personal, deeply painful but ultimately hopeful since our long journey through this has ended with our beginning the healing process. My conundrum is should these be separate or combined?
You probably didn’t know this, but I have a problem with compartmentalizing. ha ha! Meaning, I can’t do it. You may have noticed I began this post talking about the blog and now, here I am asking for input and suggestions for a direction of a book! I need help with my wandering mind, my rambling style of writing.
I know there are some writers out there who read here occasionally. I also know there are lots of readers who come here too. I want to hear from you! What appeals to you in a book? What topics are you most interested in? What are you most interested in learning more about? Help me out!
I look forward to a great discussion and some awesome feedback and suggestions! Let’s help each other!