Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Better Late?

Another Spring is fast approaching and the year is shaping up. 

Being in a reflective mood, it dawned on  me that I had not made any New Year's resolution this year.  No big plan to start exercising daily and lose weight.  No  promise to myself to read the Bible all the way through from start to finish.  Not even a simple "I'm going to be a better person this year."

And here it is... almost March. 

So, thinking that it's never too late to resolve to do better, I am making a list of my top ten resolutions:

10.  Be more organized - I put this at the #10 spot because that way I will remember it for at least a day.

9.  Do my tax return on time.. if only because I know that will make the IRS suspicious!

8.  Take a  ballroom dance class - learn to TANGO!!!! Cha!Cha!Cha!

7.  Start a hobby (actually I did this but had to leave it at home when I left for Kuwait so that one is already broken)

6. Make new friends (got a good start on that one.. met a lot of new people.. now if I could just remember their names.)

5.  Write more often - because I know everybody is waiting breathlessly to read my every word!

4.  Get to work early... something I am sure the boss would love and my co-workers would hate!

3.  Lose Weight & Exercise-   ahhhh... the ultimate and classic resolution that we all make and we all break.

2.  Save Money  - well, first ya gotta make money and then ya gotta be a tightwad.  yech.

1.  Read the Bible all the way through from start to finish -  I always get hung up on the "begats"  Come on, be honest...the begats.  Can't we just skip them thangs?

I could probably add 100 more things that I need or want to do.   But I wonder what God would have me resolve to do. 

There is the old song: "I have decided to follow Jesus... no turning back.. no turning back."   That should be the only resolution any of us make.   It is the only one that brings everything else into order.   Following Jesus is key to living a life that is exemplary in every way. 

So... I'll just disregard the list (as usual) and continue following Him.  

Whew!   Talk about relieving the pressure!

Now I can get on with my year.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.   (James 1: 3-4)

I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now,  being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;   (Phil 1: 4-7)

How do you count it joy when you are in the middle of one of life's storms?   How in the world could anyone, including God, expect that from us?   

A few years ago, I would have answered "It's impossible."   That was before I encountered a God that filled me with such spiritual joy that it overflowed into my daily existence and into everything that I do.

Paul is not speaking about happiness.    He is talking about the joy of the Lord.   That joy is strength and steadfastness.   It is power and it is peace.       "Do not sorrow; for the joy of the Lord is your strength."  (Neh 8:10) 

Happiness is dependent upon circumstance and surroundings.   We are happy when things go our way.   We are happy when life is what we call good.   We are also joyful and thankful in those good times; however, as Jesus said, we are going to have  hard times in our lives.    Times when we won't be so happy.

The joy of the Lord gives us the ability to go through any trial, any trouble, any storm ... with the sure knowledge that God is working in our lives just as He promises that He will.   Our joy is dependent upon God and what He has done in our lives.  It is not dependent upon our circumstance.

Times of hardship test our faith.   We ask questions that seem to have no answers and have to trust that God knows what He is doing. 

Without faith in God, we stumble and break in hard times and crumble in despair when our hearts break. 

And although we may feel as though our lives are shattered and broken upon the rocky road we are on, we must keep walking, crawling if need be, because we know that with Jesus there is hope for the future.   And we will look back upon that journey with amazement and wonder in the mighty and loving God that brought us through it.  We will realize that God does not make mistakes and we know that there will be a story to tell, a testimony of God's work and His faithfulness.  That gives us cause for great joy even in the middle of our pain.

Also, during life's valleys, God is perfecting us... perfecting our faith.   He is growing us into  the person He planned us to be; "perfect and complete, lacking nothing."

So rather than thinking that God let the devil after us to mess up our lives,  we should look at our valley as an opportunity for growth and testimony.     You know... "what the devil means for bad, God means for good."

There is nothing that happens in our lives that God does not know about in advance.   He has a plan and a purpose for us.   His plan was in effect before ever we were born and He is going to carry it out in us.    He knows our past, present, and future. 

Are  you saved?  Are you born again?   Are  you a child of the King?   If so, then you have reason for great joy.  

As His child, if we are going through a trial, it is because God has not only trusted us with it.   He has entrusted it to us.        He is using it to perfect us and complete us.   In doing so, He is finishing the good work He began in us.   

Has God called you into a ministry or service and you think it will never happen?   It's impossible?     Your life is too confused or messed up and you've taken too many wrong turns?     You've gotten distracted too many times or just plain given up on it?  Do you envision and pray for a future that you think can never happen?

God has not given up.  He has not lost sight of you where you are.   His plan for you has not changed.   Your circumstance is part of His plan and He trusts you in it.  He has given you the measure of faith required to see it through.    It is not up to you to complete it.   He is the one who does that.   But you must participate by acknowledging Him and allowing Him to do His work.   You must participate by standing firm in His word and by rejecting satan when he lies to you.  You have to cooperate with Him by getting up every day to do the work set before you in faith.

Take joy in knowing that whatever your situation, God is acting for your benefit and on your behalf.   He is completing you.

Friday, February 4, 2011

On the Altar

"I am nothing but sharp edges and splinters.. shards of a splattered and shattered faith, using those shanks and points to keep His love at a distance so I don't have to face Him.   Yet He allows Himself to be pierced and bloodied once again as He draws me close,  holding me in His arms of love and grace and pulling those spears and swords into His body and heart as He covers me.   How can He stand it?  How can He stand me? "
I wrote these words one 2:00 a.m. morning  several years ago.   It was  a time when my life was broken and I felt that I had nothing left to give.  Nothing but pain.
Looking back, I see the hand of God in my life, shaping me and changing me into the person He created me to be.   Growing me.    Growing my faith.   Growing my confidence and trust in Him.
The following hymn (written by Elisha Hoffman ) comes to my mind  with new understanding of the lyrics:
You have longed for sweet peace,
And for faith to increase,
And have earnestly, fervently prayed;
But you cannot have rest,
Or be perfectly blest,
Until all on the altar is laid.

Is your all on the altar of sacrifice laid?
Your heart does the Spirit control?
You can only be blest,
And have peace and sweet rest,
As you yield Him your body and soul.

Would you walk with the Lord,
In the light of His Word,
And have peace and contentment alway?
You must do His sweet will,
To be free from all ill,
On the altar your all you must lay.

O we never can know
What the Lord will bestow
Of the blessings for which we have prayed,
Till our body and soul
He doth fully control,
And our all on the altar is laid.

Who can tell all the love
He will send from above,
And how happy our hearts will be made,
Of the fellowship sweet
We shall share at His feet,
When our all on the altar is laid.

I laid my life in the hands of Jesus.   He has not disappointed.  He has not let me down.  Ever.  He suffered for me and with me personally.     I gave Him my future, my past, my present.   He owns it.  He owns me.   

He, in turn, and as the song says, has given me peace and contentment and a happy heart.  The altar of His love is the crucible that changed my life.