Sunday, November 18, 2012

The "ya-buts" are all dead...God killed 'em

Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful UNTO DEATH, and I will give you the crown of life. (Revelation 2:10 ESV)

In the above verse we are being reminded to be faithful to God, in the greatest of trials, even in the face of death. It also means that we are to be faithful until the end of our lives.

What does it mean to be faithful? Well, to me it means to remain true, loyal, and steadfast. I think it means that God calls us to be workers until our last breath. To be servants until the end of our lives or this world, whichever comes first.

In Matt. ch 25 in the parable of the talents, the two servants who are commended at their masters return, are the two who worked until their master returned. They continued in their efforts until the end.

In this life it is all to easy for us to fill our lives with "ya-buts". In response to doing more (or any) work for the Lord, we excuse our way out of it. Ya, but I'm too young. Ya, but I'm too new. Ya, but my kids are too young. Ya, but my kids are older and we are too busy. Ya, but I'm busy with work. Ya, but I do that at work all day. Ya, but I retired. And so it goes....on and on. We can each justify our own circumstance but we judge the others around us. God does not accept excuses. Either you want to work for Him or you don't.

Friends! Where does the Lord tell us to be faithful until marriage? To be faithful until we work? Or be faithful until we are retired? At what point is it ok to become a spectator in the church? At what point is it ok to say, we have served enough and now it is our turn to be served? Wasn't it our own Lord who served until His last breath? When did he feel it was time for people to start washing HIS feet?

I can hear it now.....ya, but I am not ABLE to work. No. You CHOOSE not to work. If you have physical limitations, what keeps you from making phone calls, writing letters, sitting and teaching? If you have a desire to serve, the Lord will give you a way. If you have time limitations, first check your priorities. If they are truly in order you can still squeeze in service to God.

I understand that we need to step back and recharge once in awhile. But we should return with renewed passion. We should not step back and walk away.

Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; (Matthew 9:37 ESV)

The laborers (workers) are FEW. God needs you. Yes, you. He gave you the interests, talents, experiences, hardships, knowledge, and personality you have for a reason! What you view as an ordinary part of you is a planned detail in some way God wants to use you. You are you, for a greater purpose. God's kingdom needs workers. One day we will all have to turn in our talents and present the Lord with how we have used what he has given to us.

We are creatures who can justify anything we want to. Let us justify our idleness no longer. Let us take action, and shine our lights every single day. Let us allow God to use us for His purpose. We can do this. No more excuses. Let's get to work.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The hardest part.....

     As I sit here and reflect on what this past years political modge podge has been, one thing stands above the rest in my mind. What was it? A question I had to answer for my 10yr old.

     We have tried to make the best of the mud slinging and look for opportunities to learn. Not just about the candidates, but about people in general. It gives us a chance to step back and ask ourselves what we stand for.

      In our home we have a TV but no TV channels. We use netflix and an Xbox. So, we were saved from most of the political commercials. However, there were plenty of other ways we have been bombed with political mud slinging. Among all this mud slinging two phrases kept creeping up; "pro-life" and "pro-choice".
As most of you know, Rachel is a fairly serious minded girl and not a lot slips past her. She took note of these reoccurring phrases and inquired about their meaning. Who wants to look at their child and explain to them what abortion is? Who wants to look at their child and tell them that in the womb people can legally take their life? I don't. I know how sensitive my daughter is to these things and so I tried to put it in as simple terms as possible. I told her that "pro life" means people who are against abortion and "pro choice" means that you are for abortion. Then I had to explain what abortion was. My mind raced for a moment, and my mouth felt dry. Finally, I told her that abortion is when women decide that they don't want their baby for one reason or another and so they have them (at this word I hesitated but could find no other) killed while they are still inside the mom.

     She stared at me. Her lip quivered. She then said the most frightening thing. She welled up and asked, "You mean you could have killed me if you wanted to?" I grabbed her and held her tight. I told her that the thought NEVER EVER EVER crossed my mind and I would gladly give my life so that she could live. Her heart could not grasp this horror. She demanded to know why people could think of doing this horrible thing. I told her the truth.....I didn't know. She asked why people didn't just put the kids up for adoption instead....again I answered that I didn't know.

      We talked about it for sometime. We prayed about it. We prayed for the people who have had abortions, the people thinking about it, the people choosing not to, and the people that make it legal. She had a sense of determination to do something about this.

      After we were done my daughter walked away and I sat in silence. Another piece of her innocence was gone.  What if I had wanted to abort her? I was very young when I had her. What about my son? I went into it knowing my pregnancy would be difficult. What if? The thought weighed on my heart so heavily. To think of the blessings I would have missed out on. The empty spot in my life that would be so hard to fill is overwhelming. I cried. I prayed. I hugged my kids and kissed them.

       I pray for those who are suffering emotional pain after an abortion. We all sin and God can heal your pain.

       As I reflect on this election.......this was the hardest part.


The Forgotten Holiday

                 How did it happen that we started skipping right from Halloween to Christmas? It seems fitting in our culture to have a holiday of thanks swallowed up by holidays of spending and getting. Now, that is not to say that people don't do great things around Christmas, and that good things don't happen. But, why only at Christmas? Does it seem odd to anyone else that "Black Friday" is the day after Thanksgiving, the day after we are supposed to be counting our blessings (as we should everyday)? The very next day people trample each other to spend money and buy more stuff in a country with far too much stuff already.

                I like Christmas. The lights, the trees, the fun and family. However, Christmas is not what it was intended to be. Companies cash in on the holidays that will bring them the biggest profit. They want to push us right past being grateful and want us to feel guilty for not spending hundreds of dollars on each child. We are able to spend roughly $100 on each of our kids and often it is much less than that. We opt for homemade gifts and spending time together. I don't want my children to feel that they are "missing out" on tons of toys because society says things=happiness. I. Will. Rebel. 

                 This is the challenge I issue to you. Spend November focusing on thankfulness and not on Christmas. Focus on blessings and not buying. Focus on family and not food. I admit I too, get caught up in the Christmas section of a store and letting my mind wander. I get the urge to buy Christmas lights the second they are put on display. But, we are starting family traditions for Thanksgiving and they are restoring a grateful attitude in our household.

                We like to make what we call our "Thankful tree". I make a cut out of a tree trunk and branches out of paper bags and tape it to the wall. Trust me, no artistic background is required. We make the tree about 2-3' tall and tape it up on one of the main walls in the house. Then we trace our hands on construction paper and cut them out. These are our leaves. We then write something we are thankful for on each "leaf" and plaster the tree with them. We add more throughout the month as we think of things. It is a great motivator for kids and adults alike to really consider their blessings and to be able to visualize just how many blessings there are.

            So as we are in November, and we are tempted to be pulled away from being thankful-sincerely thankful, for the things that we have, lets rebel. Let's rise up and teach our children and families HOW to be thankful.