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Whose plan are you following?

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A few weeks ago I hosted my annual end-of-the-year Sunday School Class Party.  After spending many hours and lots of $$$ preparing for the party, things did not go as planned.

 

1.  Had Ginny (The Mother-in-law, but I knew this one).

2.  Wednesday before the Friday night party, I get a text from my son saying he and his entire family were coming for the weekend and arriving Friday afternoon.  That’s 2 adults and 4 grandkids added to the mix.

3.  Drama.  I don’t know what happened yet, but some kind of drama happened in youth group [I know that surprises all who know youth] on Wednesday and half the group did not show as a result.

4.  Some of the ones that did show did not want to participate in planned activities.  Grandchildren wanted to participate in ALL the activities.

5.  Isn’t that enough?

You know what?  Life is that way sometimes.  No matter what we plan, God is in control of what happens.  He knew all about what would happen at the party.  He is in charge of any results from the party.  I did my part by planning, God will do His part in the hearts of the students and others attending.

 

Best laid plans. . .

Most of us like to have a plan in place.  Plans help us feel ‘in control’ of our lives.  They do, that is, until things go awry.  I know some people who freak out when they have their plans usurped.   I know others who make no plans to avoid disappointment.  God doesn’t mind us making our plans, as long as we don’t leave Him out of the loop or raise a fuss when He has other ideas.

 

Trusting His plan gives life balance

His Plan.

Fortunately, God has a plan.  These are some things we can know about His plans.

 

►His plans never fail.

“…I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, 10 Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:” Isaiah 46:9-10

 

►His plans include my good.

“11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” Jeremiah 29:11

 

►No matter who governs me or my country, God is my ultimate ruler.

“For the kingdom is the Lord’s, and He rules over the nations” Psalm 22:28

Knowing the above, I feel safe, even when my plans go awry.  I trust that God had a purpose in it all, and that He will carry that purpose out, whether I am aware of it or not.  I think we need a reminder of this, especially as those in the USA face the upcoming election.  No one can get in office unless God allows it for His reasons.  This helps me to know that:

 

►A person cannot cheat his/her way in.

►It’s not the end of the world if my candidate is not selected.  It is in God’s plan, and the end of the world will be when He declares it.

►I don’t have to be swayed by circumstances.  I know who has me in His hands regardless of the circumstances.  I know Him.  I trust Him.  That determines my attitudes and actions, not circumstances.

 

I hope as the world seems to have turned upside down, you will place your trust in the only place where it is safe.  Then I hope you will join me in determining to rise above the fray and bring a breath of fresh air into a sticky situation.  My hope is in God, not Obama or Romney.

 

How about you?  I’d love to hear your thoughts. 🙂

 

 

Step into my parlor said the spider to the fly!

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This morning I witnessed a disgusting horific amazing sight.  I often have to make trips to the little girls room in the middle of the night.  My procedure, in order to keep from waking the hubs and make sure I don’t run into any unwanted centipedes surprises, is to put on shoes, go into the bathroom, shut the door and flip the light and tap on the floor a couple of times with my cane so the buggers know I’m coming and scat (hopefully).  This time, the lights flipped on and I saw a bug coming.  It wasn’t a centipede, so Brian wasn’t woke up with a scream; it was a little thing about a 1/2″ long.  I tapped my cane so it would go back into the bowels of where ever and leave me alone.

English: spider web with fog droplets, San Fra...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It turned tail to run and started doing this little spinny thing as another even tinier bug came running toward it.  The tiny bug was maybe an 1/8th of an inch, so I couldn’t tell what it was and thought it was a baby of the other.  I was wrong!  Before I knew what was happening the tiny spider came up and bit the other insect that had tripped on his web.  I then had to got to watch him work.  The other bug struggled briefly, but soon succumbed to the poison.  The spider then wrapped the bug up and anchored it better.  It was a bitter sweet moment.  My attempt to save the bigger bugs life by keeping it from coming close enough to the bottom of my shoe went horribly wrong.  While fascinated by the action unfolding before me, I had to feel sad for the bug who became dinner (or more likely breakfast) for the spider.  I didn’t even know that spider or its web were in that corner.  They were not visible (whether to my old eyes or just well camouflaged.)

The whole ordeal reminded me of two things: the movie “The Fly” and how we get entangled in sin.

I have an article I keep in my Bible called, “Sin Wants to be Your Friend” by Tim Challies.  He says it so well:

“Sin makes so many promises.  Sin promises joy.  It promises fulfilment. Sin promises to be your

Spider web

(Photo credit: @Doug88888)

friend.  When you first meet a new friend you reveal only little bits of who you are, what you believe, what is important to you.  But over time, if the friendship is to grow, you need to reveal more and more of yourself, you need to open yourself up.  Friendship grows out of the vulnerability of allowing another person to see who you really are beneath the polite exterior.  Sin asks you to give just a little bit more of yourself to it every time.  Just a bit more.  Just a bit more after that.  But over time sin comes to own you.  It comes to know everything there is to know about you.  And then it stabs you in the back and laughs with glee as you are left sputtering and humiliated and destroyed.  It laughs as your marriage is destroyed, as your church is shamed, as your friends are betrayed.  That’s the kind of friend it is.”

Just as the spider laid its invisible trap, sin lays a trap for it.  We seldom see it coming because it draws us in gradually, but once we are entangled in its web, it’s too late.  Sin swoops in and takes another victim.  Sadly, with sin, the sinner is never the only victim.  Sin hurts. It hurts the sinner.  It hurts those who love the sinner.  It hurts society as well on some level.  Sin promises all those things we think we want, but delivers death.  Only God is our true friend, a Promise Keeper, a Need Meeter, a Disciplinarian, and so much more.  Any and all needs we have can be met in God, but we have to choose Him over the false trappings of sin

Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.    —James 1:13-15

As James tells us, sin happens when we are lured and enticed by our own desire.  We look (and do not look away).  We want.  We place our foot on that web, thinking we can always get away or that it won’t hurt us.  We are wrong.  Sin, when followed to it’s conclusion “brings for death”.   Sin may appear fun for a while, but that is an illusion.   That’s why we should “guard our hearts with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.”  Proverbs 4:23

Step into my parlor . . .

English: Centiped

Loving perfectly

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People come to love not by finding a perfect person, but by learning to see an imperfect person perfectly.”  — anonymous

You know, sometimes people can be difficult?  What?  That’s not a shock to you?  Well, how about this:  sometimes YOU can be difficult.  I bet that one was more of a surprise, but not really.  We all have human failings that cause difficulties in our communications with others and with God.  Sometimes, the struggle to deal with difficult people (or people who are difficult in a specific situation) can bring up a few difficulties in one’s self.  It often brings out the ick in us as we struggle with the issue.

Ick # 1:  Depression.

Depression, or the pity party, hits some of us when we face difficulties, and especially difficult people.  Some of you do not struggle with this, but some of you, like me, do.  I don’t like confrontation.  I use it when necessary, but I don’t like it.  This struggle often brings me to a mood dip.  My mood dip can be a shallow dip or a great big gorge, depending on the situation.  I have learned over the years that the depth of the dip depends on me and my attitude.  If I deal with it, the moment passes quickly.  If I dwell on it, I can find myself in over my head.

Ick # 2:  Anger

The Bible says to ‘be angry and sin not’ (Ephesians 4:26), implying that anger is not the main issue.  Anger is a feeling.  Feeding anger leads to sin.  Anger has to be dealt with quickly.  The definition of quickly depends on the person and the situation, but un-dealt-with anger is a raging fire that burns the angry person and anyone in his or her path.  In the case of sinful anger, the root is often pride.  How dare that person say that to me/do that to me/treat me that way!  I don’t deserve this!  We tend to magnify the other person’s offense and minimize our own actions (like how we often do the same to others).  The only solution is to recognize the truth about the situation and then forgive.

Ick # 3:  Pay Back

Have you ever wanted to do to someone what they did to you?  You think they should feel the pain you feel, often with the thought that they would then apologize profusely and not do it again.   This is revenge, and revenge is not sweet!  This tendency to want to hurt when we are hurt.  This tendency just perpetuates the cycle and does not open up the doors of communication; it slams them shut!

I’m sure there’s more ick, but we’ll settle on these three for now.  I have been dealing with all of these issues – internally – and figuring out how to deal with it in a healthy way.  My human nature’s instincts are not of God, and they cannot bring reconciliation and open communication to the situation(s).  It’s funny how we can walk around with this festering sore inside us, while the other people have no clue there’s even a problem.

Are you self-aware?  Have you ever had the ‘ick’ies? Have ow do you deal with difficult people?  How do you respond when you realize you are being difficult to others?

 

God loves  us perfectly, imperfections and all!  How far along are you on the journey to do likewise?   I have a ways to go, but understanding God’s view helps.

 

Our choices make us

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Our very lives are fashioned by choice.  First we make choices.  Then our choices make us.” — Anne FrankSignature of Anne Frank

 

When I saw this quote, I had to sigh because it is so true.  As a human being, I usually look for other reasons why my life/body/relationships/other isn’t as it should be.  But, at some point along the way, I made a choice.  That choice often led to other choices, leading me down a path I never intended to go.

 

 

We can think of those choices as building blocks.  What have you built your life on?  What kind of choices make up your foundation?  Every time we make poor choices, we are adding an unstable block.  Too many of those, and you can see the possibility for disaster.

 

Let’s use health as an example.  Every time I choose to eat something not good for me (on a consistent basis), every time I choose to sit instead of move, every time I go on a bad diet and mess up my metabolism, every time I make bad choices, my bad choices will make up who I am.  I am not saying that everyone is responsible for all their health issues.  Let me repeat that:  I am NOT saying that everyone is responsible for all their health issues.  Sometimes things happen that are outside of our control. Cancer happens; accidents happen; we get old; life takes us places we don’t want to go.  But, those things aside, our choices do effect our health.

 

We can apply this principle (sowing and reaping) to other things in our life as well.  Do we choose to be in relationships with people who are not good for us?  Do we choose to get drunk or high and not only harm our bodies but set ourselves up for even worse decisions under the influence?  Do we choose selfish desires over generosity?  This list of questions could go on for a mile or more, but the point is that our choices do make a difference – now and in the future.

 

So, now what?  I’m on this other path, and I want off!  Am I stuck?  While I may not be able to undo everything I have done by my choices, I can begin by making better choices from here on.

 

Bible

Bible (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

The first choice I recommend for all is to choose Jesus as Savior and Lord.  With that choice as a foundation, you have a lot of resources at your command.  As you seek to deepen your relationship with your Creator, you will begin to be like Him and make better choices.The second  choice I recommend is spending time in God’s Word.  Proverbs is a great place to find instruction in wise choices.  The entire Bible is a manual in both good and bad choices.

English: Jonah, as in Jonah 2:10, "And th...

English: Jonah, as in Jonah 2:10, “And the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.”;watercolor circa 1896–1902 by James Tissot (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

–Jonah decided to run from the Lord’s calling.  That didn’t work out so well for him.

 

–Noah decided to obey the Lord, despite the taunts of everyone else in the world.  He lived; they died.

 

–Lot choose to pitch his tent toward Sodom and Gomorrah.  While that may have seemed a rather neutral choice, it was anything but.  His eyes were fixed on his own comfort instead of God.  This choice led to major destruction for his family and tainted the rest of his life.

 

Even when our choices seem to have no right or wrong, they send us in different directions.  It is wise to spend time in prayer before making those decisions so we don’t go in the wrong direction and live to regret it.

 

What choices have you made lately?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A Day of Rememberance

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Today is a mixed bag of feelings for me.  I remember hearing about the twin towers and then watching television for several days with tears flowing.  I learned some things that day I’d like to share.

 ♥†♥†♥†♥

1.  People will come together and help one another in crisis.

2.  People care!

3.  Some things are more important than politics and petty concerns.

4.  It does matter what you believe.

  ♥†♥†♥†♥

The first two were obvious as we watched first responders and others take their life in their hands to help others.  People across the country stepped up to the plate in a big way, then and on down the road.  In fact, we still remember and honor those who died that day.  We still follow the lives of some of those who lost parts of themselves or their loved ones in that building.

The third reminds us that all those things we worry about and argue about won’t really matter if we lose our country.  We need to stop snarking at one another and come together in an effort to save this land.  Many of us are coming together on our knees.

Fourth, we are reminded that not every belief is valid.  In the USA (and I suspect elsewhere) we’ve come to the point where we want truth to mean whatever someone wants it to.  In this case, several young men believed that they were doing a service to their god by flying those planes into buildings full of people.  In fact, they willingly martyred themselves for this belief.  I believe they had a rude awakening seconds after the planes hit or went down.  How sad.

They weren’t the only ones with a rude awakening that day.  We learned how vulnerable we are.  We learned many things, good and bad, that have changed how we view the world around us.  I hope we will all choose today to remember those lessons and seek God for the restoration of our country.  These lessons were not just those of the people of the US either.  Everyone everywhere needs to learn what we learned that day.  Their life and their eternity may depend upon it.

 ♥†♥†♥†♥

 What were you doing on this day?  What lessons did you learn?  How do you remember?

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Today is also my anniversary.  30 years!  I don’t know where the time goes, but I thank God that He knew better than I did who I needed and put us together.  I thank Him that He has kept us together through all the ups and downs.  I thank Him for teaching me some of those life lessons through my marriage.  I thank Him for teaching us what real love is through the hard times.  On September 11 of the tower tragedy, we did not celebrate.  We cried.   Today we celebrate the wonder of 30 years of life!

Brian’s mother (Ginny), the happy couple, My mother and father (Marilyn and Phil), and my son (Jason). My how life has changed 😀

What’s Your Beam?

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Sins of the tongue probably rate as the worst kinds of sins as far as harm to others goes.  Yet, we sit in our churches with blazing tongues, spreading hurt to all with no qualms.  While I believe homosexuality is a sin because the Bible says it is, I sometimes question the obsession with it that I see among Christians.  It’s like we’ve separated the sins into acceptable and unacceptable categories.  We have our pet sins; those go into the acceptable category.  Then we have the ones that don’t bother us as much; those go into the unacceptable category.

 

Let me tell you no sin is acceptable to God!

 

We are all sinners.  There is none righteous, no not one.  We cannot gloss over some sins and sit in our pews as holier-than-thou whited sepulchres, spewing ungodliness in our judgmentalness.  We ought to do one and not leave the other undone.  We should worry about sin – all sin – our own sin first.

 

The Bible tells us to take the beam out of our own eye first.  Then we will be able to see clearly to help others remove the speck in their eyes.  As long as we have these sins that we cling to and justify and ignore as ‘not so bad’, we will be unable to help others with their sin.  This is the problem when it comes to speaking out against sin.  We do not have the right to do so until we have cleaned up our own back yard.  I am not saying we shouldn’t speak out.  I’m saying we should clean up that beam and then speak out, when we have the right and the ability to help others in the same mess we found ourselves in.

 

We have the answer:  Jesus Christ.  But we besmirch His name when we excuse sin in our own lives while condemning others for theirs.  I have been asking God for over a year to show me the truth about these matters.  He is slowly but surely moving me into His will as He teaches me how to walk with Him and how to know Him as He truly is.  This is a difficult concept for most Christians,  but it is difficult in its very simplicity.  The same is true of salvation.  It is simple, and yet we make it hard.

 

So what beams do you have in your eyes, keeping you from seeing clearly? 

 

In this series, we will talk about the beams we can have and what they look like.  Tune in for more. . . .

 

 

It starts with words, but it doesn’t end there

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“Well done is better than well said.”

 “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”

“Talk is cheap.”

~*~*~

However you say it,

words without action mean nothing;

intentions without follow through mean nothing;

promises without promise keepers mean nothing.

Words are easy; actions are hard.

Say it — Do it — Be it!

~*~*~

Communication begins with words.

It does not end there.

Communication with only words seldom communicates anything,

especially if the words do not match the actions.

At least, it seldom communicates what the speaker hoped.

~*~*~

When we stand behind our words:

Others hear that we mean what we say.

Others hear that we have integrity.

Others hear that this person is trustworthy.

Others hear the intent of the heart,

because it has not been divorced from right action.

~*~*~

God wants us to stand behind our words to Him.

He always stands beside His to us.

Don’t say, “I love You.” when you don’t obey.

Don’t say, “I love Your Word.” when you don’t read it.

Don’t say, “I love Your people.”  when you don’t show compassion.

Don’t say, “I trust You.” when you continue to doubt.

~*~*~

Words

Words (Photo credit: sirwiseowl)

The words you speak my reflect what is in your heart,   But the actions you take prove what is in your heart.

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