He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Psalm 40:3a

Monday, November 6, 2017

Giving Up Our "Isaac's"

            I was talking with a friend this week about how life seems to want to wrangle us to the ground, leaving us breathless with frustration and wringing our hands, while trying to figure out what in the world to do!

            One of my favorite movies, “Facing The Giants,” has one scene where the wife is faced with the frustration of being unable to get pregnant.  Her husband asks her if God doesn’t give them children, would she love Him [God] anyway?  She didn’t immediately answer, because the void left her broken.  

           Later after another visit with the doctor that said she was not pregnant, she looked up toward the heavens and said, “I will love you, anyway!  I will love you!”  That scene brings me to tears every time I see it.  She, gave up her “Isaac.”  She gave to God that which she clung to, because of the pain of not having children seemed too great to bear. 

            Another friend recently shared how she had to give up something she loved.  She said it wasn’t something she really wanted to do, but God had his own plans, and her life had turned in such an expected way, the only way to deal, was to give up this particular “love!”  Following much prayer and discussion with her husband, she made the hard choice.  She will tell you in a heartbeat, God blessed her and her husband’s decision.  God opened doors in areas she didn’t even realize needed opening.   

            In my own life, I have been faced with similar situations.  There are changes which rattle my core, and I have prayed for direction.  There was a time this week, when I heard that “voice within me” ask, “If……(this) …..doesn’t take place, will you love ME anyway?” 

            It made me remember the scene in the movie, “Facing the Giants.”  I had to look hard at myself and weigh my choices and recognize who is in control.   I looked to the Lord and said, “Yes, I will love you anyway! I will!”  In the movie, the couple had children, even though the doctor said they wouldn’t.  How will my situation turn out?  I haven’t a clue.  But I have to trust that if God chooses to change MY plans, then HE has something better!

            We’ve become a world where those things we believe we need (and particularly that which we can buy), is a done deal!  With credit easily available, to almost anyone ---  even though there may be a horrific interest fee to pay ---  we can buy those items we feel necessary, even if they aren’t a “necessity” at all.

            For those items we cannot purchase, even with cold hard cash, it’s a little more complicated, but people will still go to great lengths to attain their ideals from their “bucket list” or human desires, even if it costs them dearly, because of bad choices.

Once Adam and Eve were ejected from the Garden of Eden, we’ve been a people who were promised a life of trial and tribulation.  It’s in this format we are taught to trust in a God who knows all things.  Life’s not easy.  It’s not supposed to be.  Sometimes, when we are faced with not getting what we want, it may not be that God is saying, “No.”  Instead it may be “It’s not the right time,” or “I’ve got something better in mind.” 

Giving up your “Isaac” may be the hardest --- and best --- thing you could ever do.  It may be just what you need to strengthen your faith and build your trust.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Our Christian Support Group

            There are many ways people choose to worship.  Many find they are close to God when alone in a boat on the water.   Others feel close to God in the mountains or other natural settings.  Some find communion with God in the silence of their own home.

            This communion with God is necessary each day of our lives.  It’s vital, also, to interact with other Believers for the encouragement gleaned from each other.  Other Christians are, in essence, “our support group.”

            How long do clubs remain functioning if no one attends meetings?  Whether it’s VFW, Weight Watchers or a civic organization; when people stop coming to meetings, interest falls, goals are left unmet, and the organization will fold.  People are what hold the “club” together.

            Church meetings are even more vital when looked upon from this perspective.  How long will churches last if no one comes?  How long will our interest hold and faith and strength remain, if we don’t stay involved, even with the best intentions?

            The Bible is specific on this subject.  Go to meetings for encouragement, and to encourage.  This is when our souls are fed and nourished, for the upcoming days in the week, when we may not have any other human contact.  It’s the tie that binds us to our Christian family.

            Recent surveys show statistically people in the South tend to be “church-goers” more than those in the North. Another article further describes the various kinds of churches available.  Congregations include mega churches that enjoys up to 2,000 or more as a weekly congregation.  There are also the smaller, lively and vivacious urban churches, that prefers intimacy over quantity, and finally there are others who do not claim affiliation with any specific denomination, yet do remarkably well in regular attendance.

            I admit, I gravitate toward a medium sized church, where most people know each other, that initiates community, yet still has energy overflowing in Christian love. There’s something really special about walking into God’s house and being welcomed by hugs from many of the members.  I’ve been to small churches, and even enjoy them; but I prefer a bit more activity.  On the mega church level, I tend to shy away, because I feel lost in something so large.  Regardless where I find myself on Sunday morning, I know I must attend church.

            Once in college, a professor asked the students in our class, “What one thing do you need from week to week to keep your routine in check?”  My answer: “Church attendance.”  She countered with, “Why?”  I explained, “When I miss church service, my entire week is thrown off.  My time in fellowship with other Believers on Sunday sets the tone for the rest of the week.  Listening to the sermon, prayers and singing the hymns, feeds my mind and soul all week long.”

            I encourage you to attend worship service regularly.  It’s the best way on earth to feed your mind, soul and spirit. 

Monday, October 9, 2017

God's Divine Appointment

         My friend tells the story about the time she was in an airport during a shooting, because she missed her flight, due to a variety of unrelated events. She endured terminal evacuations, and then lockdown with hundreds of other stranded passengers, for an entire day.  When she be-moaned her situation to a friend via text, the friend’s response took her not only by surprise, but caused her to change her perspective.  “So sorry,” said her friend.  “God must have some divine appointment for you.”  The comment caused my friend to begin looking for the “divine appointment” her friend suggested. 

            After a time, order was restored in the terminal only to have chaos reign again, but thankfully the second time, it was a false alarm. Following the pandemonium of the day, the food court never re-opened.  Snacks were shared, but not nearly enough nourishment for all the passengers within the confines of the terminal.  My friend went in search of food.  She found a store with snacks and asked the manager for a bulk discount.  The manager not only supplied more snacks (she gave her an entire basketful) but bottled water and one of her employees to help her pass the supplies out.  My friend returned to refill the baskets repeatedly and went out to share the supply over and over again.  She came to understand she was in that terminal and missed her flight because God had a job for her to do.

          Sometimes we are all like my friend at the beginning of her story.  We become so self-absorbed with our own problems, within our own perspective we lose sight of the larger picture.  We can’t see through our dark glasses with narrow vision, and be able to be productive. 

            We are all occasionally put into a situation where we are uncomfortable. We are confronted with confrontation, defeat in some way, harm, expectations or just everyday drama! We can fuss and grumble about our circumstance but God can use us, if we are open to his nudging.  Is that always easy?  No, not at all.  Sometimes it requires a little creativity and forthrightness, especially if we need to ask for help to fulfill what we believe God’s wants to be done.

            But what does it take to be open to the nudging of God?  I suggest it takes a relationship, .....a daily one, where there is “conversation!”  The dialogue can come through His Word, other Believers, prayer, our inner voice and the voice of the Holy Spirit --- that “still small voice” within our hearts that offers guidance and encouragement. 

            Going against what seems “normal” can be quite difficult.  When we respond to God’s Divine Appointment, we may feel uncomfortable or even out of place, because it is not what we’d normally do, given our upbringing, personality, of even financial status.  Sometimes, God requires what we are sure we cannot give.  So I encourage you to have “conversation” with Him daily, so no matter what God wants you to do, you will hear….be ready…..and able to respond.