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

Monday, December 4, 2017

Asking For Forgiveness

           
            A friend of mine tells the story of a time, while in elementary school, who did something that hurt another.  This episode must have really made an impact because my friend, nearly forty-five years later was still searching for the person whom she offended.  After continued seeking over a period of nearly fifty years and several states, she located him.  Due to the circumstances of the event, my friend wanted to apologize.  Once she found out where her “friend” lived, she drove to his home unsure about what she would say. 

            Knocking on the door, she prayed God would give her the courage to carry through to completion the journey she’d been on for so long.  Her “friend” opened the door, and she recognized him to be the person she was looking for and immediately shared her heart with him.  He forgave her and a new friendship was forged.  They shared coffee and conversation for the next several hours.  Walking away from his home, my friend knew she’d done the right thing.

            It struck me that this seemed so dramatic.  Who even remembers what went on in grade school?  I admit, I haven’t a clue what the offense was, but that it bothered my friend is significant.  How often do we, even if inadvertently, hurt someone through a negative comment, a slip of the tongue, or gossip?   Or worse, what if words were said in anger?  Sometimes the words we speak when angry are cruel and emotionally damaging.

            When we speak in anger or deliberately hurt someone, it is sinful.  We, as Believers are supposed to build each other up, not tear down.  The Bible discusses sin in absolute terms.  Sin cuts us off from God.  Our moral and spiritual conduct are relevant to our relationship with Him, just as loyalty and love in marriage to our spouse here on Earth.  It is what cements the connection with another.  When that trust has been broken there is separation.

            So my friend’s efforts at making things right with her friend, even though it had been many years ago wasn’t an extreme position after all!  Forgiveness is vital to building bridges.  When we let anger and resentment build, it is we who are hurting.

            I have another friend who has chosen to break the ties with his family because of lifestyle and choices that has hurt his family.  It’s a sad thing to watch as it rips the relationship apart.  But this friend has chosen his path and will have to deal with the consequences, if not now, then later.  The time will come when “family” may be no longer of this world, and forgiveness cannot be asked for or granted – on either side. 

            As we move into another week of the Christmas season, ask yourself if there is someone who needs forgiveness or someone who needs to forgive you.  It’s hard to swallow pride and admit a wrong, and sometimes it’s even hard to grant forgiveness, because the pain was so intense.  But it’s what we are called to do.  It’s what Jesus taught.  We all make mistakes and even bad decisions.  We can, however, make things right, if we want to.  To not make things right is sinful.  That sin can not only separate us from those we care about here on earth, it also separates us from the Father.


            Forgive someone, even if you can’t make an immediate connection with them…..  or ask forgiveness, if you are the offender. Make your Christmas joyous!

           Merry Christmas, everyone!

Monday, November 27, 2017

Limited Range

Plants require specific soil elements lighting, sun, warmth, and water to grow best.  Some are specific to well drained, moist, sandy soil; while others require full sun.  Some plants want dark, shady areas and some want acidic soil or specific nutrients to grow best. When plants are deprived of what they “need” or prefer, they tend to shrivel up and die.

I considered how we, as a people, are a little like these plants.  We find ourselves in “our little corner of the world” and rarely wander out of our boundaries.  We require a specific kind of soil to grow in, or at least in which to remain “alive”.  We allow our boundaries and growth requirements to limit us to our abilities and talents God has given us.  We choose to not place our “roots” in uncomfortable surroundings for fear of failure, ridicule, or timidity!  We don’t trust God to help us move forward.

God is not limited to what we can see.  His space and time dimension flows well beyond ours of length, width, height or even time.  He is not limited to physical laws or physical senses.  He lives in eternity, in that which at this time, we cannot see.

During a recent conversation with a friend of mine, the idea of how we let “religion-osity” rule our world was discussed.  We get so caught up in the rules and traditions we’ve learned over the centuries since Christ walked the earth, we lose what the Bible says.  His Word clearly gives the directions for our lives, but we try to conform and fit in, if not with the “world’ certainly with those closest to us, even if it’s a skewed understanding of Doctrine.  By following our own creeds, standards, traditions and principles we are not gaining right understanding and acceptance of God’s laws. 

The Pharisees were rebuked by Jesus for exactly this.  They worked to be noticed by man, were hypocritical, didn’t speak the truth and turned people from the right way and even rejected the prophets.  Isn’t this what we are doing today?  Our world is filled with those who would twist, contort, water down, add to, delete or otherwise change what God’s Word says!

Using God’s Word as a guideline, we have to choose to follow or not follow someone we believe to be godly leaders if they are not giving us truth from God’s Word.  If we don’t know His Word because we aren’t studying, it is easy to become so comfortable where we are, that we don’t even recognize we aren’t hearing truth.  It’s like we have blinders on because we choose to not question ---and we are instructed to search God’s Word as truth, when someone speaks.  We aren’t just to accept it as “golden” without “proving it through His Word.”  If it’s not truth, we must not believe (or follow) the person who says he is a man of God.

He told us in the end days, many will be deceived.  So, I challenge you to know God’s Word; study it, be in fellowship with the Creator, so you are prepared should someone ask questions about the Word or challenge your faith in some way.  It is what God not only wants, but expects us, to do. Along with this we must remember, God’s truth is not limited and neither are we, when we are in Him! 


Monday, November 20, 2017

Thanksgiving Blessings

         
         The news across the world is not only dappled in unpleasantness, it wreaks of it.  There are horror stories of shootings, weather related strife and political unrest. Yet here we are getting ready to celebrate another Thanksgiving Holiday.  So, we cook our meals, prepare lots of yummy desserts and invite friends and family to share a meal while we blot out all that is going on around us.

            So, this post is going to be a reminder—a tribute, if you will, that regardless of the many things “wrong” with our world, we can indeed look on the bright side and focus on what is “right” in our lives! Will it be balanced?  Only each reader can determine that, but I’d like to believe, regardless of the depth of despair we encounter, when we have God in our lives, we can (and must) be thankful!

            That said, first and foremost, I am thankful for God, the Giver of all things who created the universe and cares about each creation, large and small across the globe, and especially His creation of humanity.  He also offers mercy, grace and forgiveness, and as a human who is forever making mistakes, I have another reason to be thankful!

            My family is also at the top of my list.  When I consider the wealth of love I have through my husband, children and grandchildren, how can I not feel blessed?  We have a home, adequate food, clean water to drink, clothes to wear and shoes for our feet.  We have an education, enabling us to follow our dreams to become whatever it is we desire. We have the means of transportation to take us wherever we choose to travel.  And we have the comfort of pets who want nothing more than to be fed and loved.

            Along with my God and family I have friends that surround my life all across America--and even across the ocean.  I have several church families since we have the opportunity to travel.  Each of these special people embrace us even as weeks and sometimes months pass between visits.  This is the kind of friendship that lasts a lifetime, and for that I am extremely grateful!

            As Americans, we live in a country where freedoms are still protected, while every day we see history changing as technology continues to radicalize the way we think and see our ever changing world.  Additionally, I am grateful to the men and women across the centuries who have served in the military to protect those freedoms, even as there is the constant threat from those who want to see our country crushed.

            Additionally I am thankful for you!  I am grateful that each of you are willing to take a few moments of your very busy days, and read the thoughts I put on paper (or computer!).  And
I am delighted when someone takes the time to share their thoughts on a given blog. 

            So, I wonder if you would share one or more things for which you are grateful.  God is so good and even when we have bad days, weeks, months or even years, it’s so good to know He is in control.  For that I am also grateful!  So share your heart……and thank you!  Thank you for being YOU!