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

Monday, November 24, 2014

My Heart Is Full

It's Thanksgiving and I have much to be grateful for.   As I sit in this VA hospital while my husband visits with his doctor it is overwhelming to see the amount of men and women so badly affected by war.  There are those without an arm, or in a wheelchair without a leg, sometimes two.  There is hearing or sight loss, not to mention the myriad other issues including cancer due to poisons like Agent Orange and other contaminants, which cannot be seen.  My husband lost a close cousin a few months ago from esophagus cancer, and we learned it was likely contracted from drinking contaminated water during training before going over to Viet Nam.  Still many of these men and women are willing to smile despite their problems.

God has blessed me with an amazing family.  Along with my incredible husband, I have three beautiful daughters and two wonderful sons, three charming son-in-laws, a gorgeous daughter-in-law and fourteen adorable grandchildren.  I have extended family and a church family who I know supports and loves me despite my flaws.  Additionally I can claim friendships that reach well down into the heart.  For these I am grateful.  I have a warm home, plenty to eat, clothes that fit and shoes to wear.  Again, I have much reason to be grateful.

I am also blessed over and over again by the gift of words.  To be able to put words on paper which others read and can relate or respond to, brings me much joy.  I am honored and humbled by the opportunities in which I can help others.

Still there is sadness.  I know there are people who hurt because they don’t have the “material” blessings I have.  There are those in great need emotionally because they have suffered a great loss this past year or are enduring a trauma even as I write this.  There are those who want nothing more than death to take them from their pain filled world.  We are a nation facing increasing Christian persecution and watch as Israel fights for her life.  There are those who battle addictions, mental illness, great fear of the unknown, poverty, starvation and those who are lonely and search for meaning in their lives.

So as I look around my world I can see both extremes;  the world filled with all those who “have” and those who “have not.”  I have found sometimes even those who “have not” in the material world are much wealthier than those who have much on the surface.  Those who have the Messiah as their Lord and Savior, even if they have very little material wealth in this life, have much to be thankful for.  They have a hope for something much greater than any of our imaginations can even consider.

So along with my friends, family and material blessings, I am thankful for every veteran who was willing to fight for our freedom; for every person who can look past his pain and smile; for each person who reads my words; for those who minister to those who have little; and for those who share the Gospel.  Mostly, I am thankful for a Savior who loved me enough to go to the cross.

My heart is full.  I hope yours is too.  Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Scientific Biblical Proof

I was asked the question once, “If the world declared only one could exist—either science or religion, which would win?”   It is my belief religion would win because a person’s faith goes far beyond anything earthly.  It is true science gives the world great things; technology and medical advances are only two.  But for all the great things, it seems science “proves” the Bible rather than disproving it!  It has taken thousands of years for details to be “discovered,” but as research continues, the Scientists are validating what God already knew!
Science begins with a problem and sets before themselves a method of testing their idea as true or untrue.  By doing this they are answering many questions yet unexplained.  One of these is our universe.  While the Bible declares there is a universe Created by God, science can describe in great detail the universe from a scientific perspective.  It can name the stars, the galaxies and even when phenomenon is going to occur long before it does.  But I contend the Bible alludes to the creation of the universe specifically enough, that in reality scientists are proving what the Bible says.  Even the idea of “Thermodynamics” which says the universe is wearing out was declared in Psalms 102.
Scientist have discovered light, described as electromagnetic radiation, has a “way” of traveling 186,000 miles a second and that stars emit radio waves!  The waves send a sound that some might describe as “song” which is how it is described in the book of Job! 
Another interesting scientific discovery relates to atoms, which are positive and negative charges of electricity.  Matter is made up of invisible tiny particles which we cannot see.  This too, is actually a confirmation of what is found in the Bible.
I heard once that it would be impossible to be both a Scientist and a Christian.  I completely disagree, since to be a Scientist, I think it would be reverse.  How can you be a Scientist and not believe in God?  Over and over, Science is proving what was recorded centuries ago!
            Science alone is meaningful but can not fill the void that can only be filled through faith.  Faith comes from within bringing internal peace, joy, comfort, moral values and a meaningful life focus.   You could take away all my earthly possessions, which in many instances, without science could not be, but you can not take away my faith.  It is my belief system.   It is what gives me the capability of dealing with life’s every day problems and the ability to be content and joyful for all that I have and all I am. 
Science can not give contentment.  A person can find satisfaction in a job well done when his accomplishments are accepted and worthwhile.  But this will not help his soul.  His inner most self will continue to search and will be haunted with emptiness, until filled with the Holy Spirit which gives a faith and peace that can only be found through God.
            So as a Believer, I can contentedly wait and watch, as Science eventually proves the Bible right, because it has proven over and over again, what Science has “discovered” was already written in the Word.

Monday, November 10, 2014

An Effective Ministry

          The very idea of being a Missionary is daunting when people perceive it to be a call away from one’s home to another country.  There is the issue of funds for travel, language barriers, leaving family, qualification uneasiness, food allergies, unknowns of another culture, fear of contracting some kind of unknown disease from a foreign land or even something as simplistic as not wanting to live without electricity or be without modern bathroom facilities. 

        By definition a missionary is “a person sent on a religious mission, especially one sent to promote Christianity in a foreign country.”  I suggest “in a foreign country” need not be included in the definition.  We are by God’s design all missionaries.  We are commanded to spread the Good News with everyone around us, whether at work, play, in school, our neighborhood, or community; where we live! 

         There are all types of ministries available for those who would choose to follow God’s guidance to touch other lives.  There is the obvious mission work in another country and many have given a life’s service to this worthwhile endeavor.  The Gideon’s are faithful in placing Bibles in hotels/motels and handing the scriptures out on college campuses and other places world wide.  There is raceway ministries which our local church congregation is involved in, or soup kitchens, sending cards of comfort, making phone calls, Hospice, food pantries, hospital visitation, visiting shut-ins, or even prayer.  The list is literally endless!  There are so many opportunities for those who are willing!

        I am about to embark on another amazing ministry and while honored, and humbled, desire to do it well while being effective!  I was discussing this idea of an “effective ministry” with my son recently and he told me something which made perfect sense!  If you believe with your whole heart God is speaking to you and telling you share something with someone, then even if it doesn’t come out sounding right to your ears, God can and will make it sound right to the hearer.  It isn’t up to us to make sure they understand, it is God’s.  And he has the ability to use the most unlikely comment, or illogical statement in our minds, to be just the right collection of words for another person!

        My husband and I recently talked with a Pastor who works specifically with Native American youth.  He and his team are working toward diminishing the number of suicides and enabling them through classes the ability to learn life skills which will carry them through their adult life.  This mission is right here in the United States and reaches to over a dozen different states.  This a great need, and I suspect this will be another area of ministry both my husband and I will eventually be more involved in.

        Consider your personal community.  How do you respond when the name of Jesus is spoken?  Do you shy away, not sure what to say next?  Are you quick to change the subject?  I challenge you this week to be a missionary in the comfort of your neighborhood, with family, friends or co-workers.  Ask God to lead you to a particular person to share the Gospel with.  You need not know a foreign language, learn a new culture, worry about food allergies, or travel to a foreign land.  God can use you to share the Gospel right where you are ……..if you are willing.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Here I Am, Send Me

I was talking with a Pastor friend the other day, who actually prefers the title, “Chaplain,” about his ministry in a well known theme park.  The Park actually not only allows, but encourages family unity and traditions, and also Biblical teaching among the employees and guests, if they choose to do so.

My Chaplain friend leads Sunday services in a small church within the Park for vacationing guests choosing to spend their Sunday there.  The church is often filled with standing room only for the mid-morning worship service.  Traditional hymns are sung, testimony shared, prayer uplifted and a sermon given.

Primarily, however, he provides spiritual guidance, encouragement, teaching, comfort and more, to the 3,000 plus employees of the park on a daily basis.  This is basically why he prefers “Chaplain” to Pastor, Preacher or Reverend.  In many instances he may find himself giving spiritual guidance to those other than his own faith, and while being true to his own faith, sensitive to others.  

He explained in his “job” he is witness to all kinds of needs, much like any other large and thriving business.  As guests of the park, we see the performers wearing their best smiles, using their best manners and projecting perfect personalities.  But like all “families” there are problems with health, stress, children, aging parents, homesickness and any other malady you can imagine!  Most big businesses provide someone qualified who is available to provide necessary services when required, to employees in need.  In this park, it’s a person who loves the Lord and can offer spiritual aid first, and then all else second. 

We live in a world where “spiritual” needs tend to come in about second to the bottom and in some cases, doesn’t even exist.  In fact in some places, it’s considered “illegal” to discuss spiritual matters, to pray, or to reflect any type of Christian faith at all.  We’ve come to a place where we must worry about “offending” those who don’t think like us! 

Regardless of many people’s belief system (or lack thereof) our God is real and still choreographs amazing miracles in people’s lives.  I have personally seen this happening in my own life and am overwhelmed even as I see the script coming to life!  God is working in the lives of those who love him and choose to say “Yes! Here I am. Send me!”

Even as He sends us, he knows our unique capabilities and has been preparing hearts, circumstances and even attitudes for many years.  God knows the beginning from the end.  He knows how, when, where and who would be best for a specific task.  Even when we believe we can’t possibly do what we are being asked to do, or be remotely worthy of the challenge, God chooses who He wants in a particular place.  We just have to trust Him to help us meet the challenge with His strength and power.

I challenge you this week to look where you are right now.  Evaluate what you believe God is asking you to do. Are you reaching out to others, like my Chaplain friend, to those with other beliefs or possibly "no belief?"  Do you trust Him enough to walk out on faith and say, like Isaiah, “Here, I am.  Send me!”