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Time for a Checkup

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I have been a very bad girl.  I recently ran out of medications, and with no refills available, I had to call my doctor.  I’ve actually only seen that doctor once, and have debated about going back to him versus going back to my other health care provider or seeking someone else entirely.  He was busy, so I was scheduled to see His wife.  I think this was a God thing.  You see, it had been a year and a half since I had been to the doctor.  I had not been taking care of myself for a long time for various reasons, and it’s time to get this back under control.  The good news is that my blood sugars and my asthma are both doing well.

 

Another issue I struggle with is weight.  I had lost about 70lbs and was doing well.  Then I got it in my head that I would start taking my diabetes medications like I’m supposed to.  Big mistake?  I don’t know, but I gained all that weight back and more in a matter of a couple months, even though I stopped as soon as I realized what had happened.  With a bum knee and all the extra weight piled on, I am in worse shape than ever.  And I am discouraged.

 

English: A doctor listens to the lungs of 3-ye...

English: A doctor listens to the lungs of 3-year old boy. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Why do I tell you this?  Sickness of the body (or lack of physical good health) often keeps us from being the people God created us to be.  My struggles keep me chained, in a sense, and hold me back from being/doing what I would like to do.   Even ministry items have to be thought out carefully before taking them on.  Many of those things that a normal 54 year old woman can do, I cannot.  I’ve had medical issues all my life and have had to adjust my life to accommodate them.  But, I often get frustrated because I want to be like everyone else (or as I perceive them).  Fortunately, many health issues can be taken care of by medication or just waiting for them to pass.   Sometimes, God chooses to completely heal.  All the time He is in the process.

 

So, when it comes to doing things like playing with the grandkids, going to the mall with my daughter, having a party for my Sunday School Class, and much more, I often have to pass or get help.  In one sense, that keeps me dependent on God, and that’s a good thing!  On the other hand, it limits my ability to relate with others doing every day things.   It’s amazing how God uses my ‘dis’ abilities at times, so I trust Him that He’ll give me the ability to do what He wants me to do, but I also wonder how many times I’ve let Him down because I just can’t do some things.

 

How’s your Health?

All of the above, a struggle I have on a daily basis, got me thinking about spiritual health.  God is much more concerned with my spiritual health than my physical health, and the only disability there is me.  How do you measure spiritual health?  How often do we miss out on ministry opportunities because our spiritual health is not very good?  How do we get healthy once we realize we’ve become spiritually sick?

 

http://www.freeclipartnow.com/science/medicine/Sin Sick

The first way spiritual sickness strikes is common to man:  sin sickness.  Those who have not accepted Christ have a sickness unto death, and the remedy is to let Jesus cover your sin with His blood and make you white and whole again.   Sin sickness still lurks in the natural man while we’re on earth, however.   If we are not progressing toward becoming like Christ, we may have allowed our sin sickness to taint our spiritual health again.  We heal this problem by keeping short accounts with God, confessing our sin, and getting right with our God.

 

Busy-ness

Another way we can become spiritually sick is through busyness.  Are you so busy you let your quiet time slip?  Do you go through the motions, looking churchy, but feeling bankrupt inside?  When we get busy, especially busy doing “God’s Work”, we may let our relationship with said God (and others) slip without even realizing it.

 

Wrong Thoughts

We can do all the right things but for all the wrong reasons.  If we do things to be seen by man, because we feel like it’s an obligation, or to be with our friends, we may have a problem.   All of those things are ok, but not if they are our motivation.  Our thoughts determine so much about us.  They also act as a barometer or thermometer to tell us we’re having problems and need to get help.

 

7 For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he:…”  Proverbs 23:7a

“For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”  Luke 12:34

Fortunately, the Great Physician is always on call, 24/7.  He gave us a prescription for spiritual maladies in the Bible, and sends His Spirit to help us understand the medications and convict us let us know when we’ve become spiritually sick.

Here’s hoping you find yourself healthy after this check up 😀  If not, I recommend you put in a call to the Great Physician.

Stop in for some Refreshment

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After giving a lecture to the people who were standing around gawking at a man who had just been healed about how the power to perform this came from the Jesus they rejected and hung on the cross, Peter says this:

 

Repent therefore, and return, that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.  Acts 3:19

 

We’ve talked a lot about repentance here, but today I want to talk about the last part of that verse.   Have you ever felt the need for refreshing?  I know I have many times.  “Life do get tedious sometimes” as my mother used to say, and we get tired in our walk.  At such times, we long for a time of peace and refreshment.

 

Here he is specifically discussing those who are sin-sick and in need of refreshment.  The principle works for all, however, because Jesus is the source of refreshment, peace, rest, and everything else we need.

 

For the lost:

 

Those who have rejected Jesus walk around in the darkness.  They seek to meet their needs in sin, but sin leads to death.  It’s like having a cancer that slowly eats you away from the inside.  I heard recently of a woman who found out she had cancer two weeks before she died.  She had walked around with this cancer around her and had no idea it was killing her.

 

Jesus is the healer:

 

Jesus heals the sin-sick soul.  He brings His righteousness and His refreshment and His healing to the person who turns to Him, the great Physician.

 

For followers:

 

While we have the refreshment and healing that comes from choosing to repent and follow Jesus, we still have a rough row to hoe at times and need refreshment.  Imagine a farmer out tending to his crops.  Those of you who do farm will understand the work it takes to bring in that crop.  It’s long, hard, exhausting work.  When you come in from the field, you need refreshment.  You don’t just think, hmm, I’d like some refreshment; you go after it.  You probably need a drink the most, but you also need sustenance and rest to rebuild you for the work to come the next day.

 

Jesus is the refresher:

 

Esau, after a hard day of hunting, came in to smell the stew his brother, Jacob, had prepared.  He needed refreshment so much; he was willing to give up his birthright for it.  He is an example of a person trying to get refreshment through sin.  It may have felt good for a while, but it was very temporary – unlike his decision to give up his birthright.

 

Jesus is the Living Water: 

Falling Water Falls

Falling Water Falls (Photo credit: dbarronoss)

 

When Jesus refreshes, it’s not a temporary thing.  As long as we’re walking with Him, we will be refreshed.  It’s like having a living water IV.

 

14 But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.   John 4:14

 

Bread

Bread (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Jesus is the Bread of Life:

 

Along with providing Living Water, Jesus also provides the Bread of Life.  This bread fills us and gives us the strength to keep going.  It refreshes and provides life – abundant life!

 

And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.  John 6:35

 

Jesus is the Light of Life:

 

Have you ever walked into a dark house and stumbled over something?  It refreshes to turn on the light so you can see what’s in front of you.  Jesus provides the eternal Light that shows us the way.

 

I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. (John 8:12)

 

Refresh

Jesus: He’s the real thing! Refresh (Photo credit: katerha)

Jesus is Everything we Need:

 

Do you need refreshment?  Take a moment to cuddle up close to Jesus and receive the refreshment He offers.  It’s better than anything sin has to offer for sure.  Taste and see that the Lord, He is good!

 

O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.  Psalm 34:8

 

Descriptions of Christ  http://www.parentcompany.com/awareness_of_god/doctoc.htm

 

Longing to be Loved

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“Countless women curl up on their couches to watch the same chick flicks over and over, especially the ones in which the hero gives everything to save the girl. Like the one rescued in movies, we want to be desired, fought for — pursued. And we are.  Our Creator and King is pursuing us, but it’s so much better than the movies. He gave up His life and paid a great price to come and rescue us.” – Lynn Cowell in “Longing to be Pursued

 

How about you?  Even men often have that need to have someone want them, really want them and pursue them wholeheartedly.  We all want to be needed, to make a difference in someone’s life, to feel like we matter.  This need is often at the base of so many things we do, including “looking for love in all the wrong places.”  We spend much energy seeking that indefinable thing that lets us know we are special.

 

As the rest of this article points out, we already have someone who pursues us, loves us, thinks we’re special above all others.  This one is Jesus.  He gave His life for us and pursues us to the end, loving us through it all.

 

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.  (John 3:16)

 

That, my friends, is a lot of love!  Have you ever doubted God’s love for you?  {If you’re human, you must say yes.}  Do you really comprehend; can you wrap your mind around, the kind of love this is?  What kind of God cares so much about a bunch of spoiled brats who seldom appreciate what He has done, is doing, will do for us?  What kind of God allows His beloved Son to go through what He did, just so that we could have a way to Him?

 

Image from Morguefile.comJesus is that white night, that hero that gave His life to protect and restore us.  When you think of yourself as the bride of Christ, try to be the kind of bride that recognizes the value of the Groom and what He did to redeem you.

Watching the end of the run

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This week my Mother-in-law, Ginny, is with us again.  Seeing her yesterday was rather shocking because she has gotten worse even in the short time since Ginny last yearwe saw her last!  Physically, she’s rather zombie-like at the moment (that could change any time).  But she’s in the mental mode where I have to remind her to drink or eat and she can’t do even the simple things without help.

 

Watching someone Die

It is one of the most difficult things to watch someone dying, whether slowly or quickly.  I have done this many times in my life, and it never gets easier.  You watch as the “life”, the part that makes the person who he or she is, slowly fades out.  You can see it best in the eyes.  The body begins to die the moment we are born, but when the soul and spirit of a person is trapped inside a mind and/or body that can no longer function, you know physical death is eminent.

In some ways, watching others die around you is a rite of passage of sorts.  It comes to everyone, and we all await our turn.

 

The Good News

The good news is that when someone dies in Christ, they pass through death into life everlasting.  This makes watching death easier in many ways for those of us who believe.  We know it’s only a temporary separation.

 

Entering Death Valley

Entering Death Valley (Photo credit: Frank Kehren)

Watching someone Die

There is another way we have to watch people “die” at times.  I have a family member (well more than one) who keeps making bad decisions.  We are born with the tendency to make bad choices; it’s called a sin nature.  However, as we grow, we should learn the consequences of our bad decisions and begin making more and more better ones.  The child learns that fit throwing gets discipline, so they learn to ask politely and accept the answer (well somewhat ;] ).  Once you touch something hot, you learn not to touch it again.

But some people seem set on a path of destruction.  I’m not talking about the besetting sin, or a sin that plagues

Eye death

Eye death (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

all of us in that we continue to struggle with it.  I am talking about someone who consistently makes bad decisions or self-sabatoges.  Watching someone in this mode is not fun, especially if it is someone you love.  You can see the cliff as they run toward it.  You try to warn them.  You weep as you see their steps running ever nearer to certain destruction.  You weep as they self destruct.  You weep in your prayer closet as you take them before the Lord.  In the end, God gave them free will, and they must make that decision.

My Soul is Sorrowful unto Death

My Soul is Sorrowful unto Death (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sometimes you can help them put things back together when they finally get to the end of themselves and realize there’s a better way.  Sometimes, they have to touch that hot stove again and again and again before they finally get there, if they ever do.

 

The Good News

I have also watched God turn people around many times.  These people often seemed as if a hopeless case, and yet, God stepped in and softened their heart.  He used their poor choices (sin of rebellion) to teach them about Himself until they finally got it and turned around from the cliff to the path He has chosen for them.  They begin to grow and flourish and watching this is just as beautiful and brings almost as many tears as watching the other.  This time, however, they are tears of joy and hope.

As long as there is hope, we can survive anything.  We can persist through unimaginable things if we have hope.  I can tell you that there is always hope in Christ.  Things do change.  People do change.  Life goes on.  We grieve for those we lose, those who don’t make it, and we keep going until it’s our turn to step over that threshold into the shadow of death ourselves.

 

 

Have you had to watch someone die?  Have you watched some self-destruct through their own bad choices?   Has that ever been you?  How did you get through it?  Have you seen God do a work in someone’s life when the world had given up on them?  Do you have hope?

 

 

Accessing the power of the Holy Spirit

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My Sunday School Class has been studying the Holy Spirit recently, and it has been a wake up call for me.  I didn’t realize I had drifted.  I used to be the first to tell others to leave room for the Holy Spirit to work, and yet, I found myself not doing that myself at times.  The Holy Spirit, an often neglected part of the Trinity, is vitally important to our life here on earth.  He is in believers.   But, just like I must turn a switch to access power for my computer, I must tune in and turn on that power I’m already plugged in to.  The Spirit is our Need-Meeter in every way as we walk this earth.  How often do we forget we have the power if we would only access it?

English: Gian Lorenzo Bernini - Dove of the Ho...

English: Gian Lorenzo Bernini – Dove of the Holy Spirit (ca. 1660, stained glass, Throne of St. Peter, St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Who is the Holy Spirit?

6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.  John 3:6    The Holy Spirit is the third part of the Trinity:  Father, Son and Holy Ghost.  He was sent to us when Jesus ascended to the Father to be our helper and much more.  He is the presence of Christ in our lives and teaches us all things we need to know, if we will but listen.

Why was His coming so important?

7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.  John 16:7    Jesus told his disciples, sad that He was leaving, the importance of His departure.  Jesus had to go so God could send the Comforter to them, the person of God they would need to do the work He had called them to do.

4 And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me.  5 For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.   Acts 1:4-5     The Holy Spirit was (is) the promise of the Father.  In other words, He is the guarantee of God’s promises.

13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, 14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.  Ephesians 1:13-14    I don’t know about you, but that makes me excited!
Three Important Tasks of the Holy Spirit

8 And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:  9 Of sin, because they believe not on me; 10 Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more;  11 Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.  John 16:8-11

>He will reprove the world of sin.   He is that one who convicts of sin.  He shows us that we are in the wrong and need a Savior.  He doesn’t convict us to make us feel bad, although that is a part of conviction.  He convicts us so we will trust Christ and be set free from our sin.

>and of righteousness.  One way He does this is to show that Jesus was and is righteous.  Another way it convicts us is in showing us the righteousness we have in Christ.  When we give Him our sin, He gives us His righteousness.  No longer do we stand before God or man in our own righteousness (inadequate at best).  We stand in Jesus righteousness!   The Spirit reminds us of this when we hear that whisper in our ear that says “you are not worthy”.  Of course we’re not worthy, but He is, and it is He that is judged for our sin, not us.  So we can stand boldly before God and man clothed in Jesus’ righteousness.   The Spirit points us to righteousness and away from unrighteousness as well.   Even though we are righteous before God, we can still slip into unrighteous living.  The Holy Spirit convicts us about what Jesus expects of us to bring us back to righteous living.

The spirit works in the lives of unbelievers to point out their need for Christ.  He continues that work in believers to cultivate a life of righteousness.

>and of judgment.  The Spirit also reminds of the final end for those who do not trust in Christ.  Satan and his band have been judged.  Hell was made for them.  God does not want people to go to hell, so He made a way for us to escape the judgment.  The Spirit shows us that we must forsake unbelief and unrighteousness in order to avoid the coming judgment.

 

Are you aware of the Holy Spirit’s work in your life?  Do you access the power, ignore it, or refuse it?   The Holy Spirit does much more than this, but that’s for another post.  Ask the Spirit to show His power in your life today.

Ten ways to love: Keeping promises

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The last of our 10 ways to love series is:   Promise without forgetting.

12 Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life.     Proverbs 13:12

 

Have you ever made a promise and then forgot to fulfil it?  Maybe your intentions were good, but busyness got in the way.  Has anyone ever made you a promise and not kept it?  This reminds me of a post over on M3 by Anne Marie Dwyer called “The thought does not count“.  When it comes to promises, the thought does not count!

♥x♥x♥x♥x♥

Sure, son, I’ll take you to the ball game.—–Sorry, son, I had to work overtime—-translation:  I got busy at work and forgot.

I’ll pick up the dry cleaning on my way home from work—–Sorry, I forgot—-translation:  Sorry, I forgot because I was thinking about something else.

♥x♥x♥x♥x♥

I’m sure you’ve all been on both sides of the equation.  It’s easy to promise and not so easy to keep the promise.

When someone goes through a certain mood cycle, this person will promise about anything.  The promises made during this time, while well meant, are worthless because follow through is non-existent.  The promises are to convince me to let her have her way.

♥x♥x♥x♥x♥

Think teen:

I’ll be home by 10:00; I promise! —  You can trust me; I promise! — I can’t wait because I love you; I promise! . . .

♥x♥x♥x♥x♥

When someone makes a promise and then doesn’t do it, it “makes the heart sick.”  I have been there a few times when someone made a promise and then it never materialized.  This is multiplied exponentially when it comes to children.  Since they tend to hear the word “maybe” as, “Sure I promise I’ll do that,” they may need to learn the difference between those kind of ‘promises’ and the real thing.  However, they trust; they think people keep their promises; they are devastated when those promises are not kept.

 

Saying I love you seems simple, but it’s very difficult.  After all,  love is patient, kind, not envious, not boastful, not proud, not rude, not self-seeking, not easily angered, keeps no record of wrongs, does not delight in evil, rejoices with the truth, always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails.  (I Corinthians 13)

♥x♥x♥x♥x♥

So, if you want to show love to another:

Listen without interrupting.

Speak without accusing

Give without sparing

Pray without ceasing.

Answer without arguing.

Share without pretending.

Enjoy without complaint.

Trust without wavering.

Forgive without punishing.  and

Promise without forgetting.

♥x♥x♥x♥x♥

No one loves perfectly outside of God, but how do you hold up?  Have you learned how to truly love?

Ten ways to love: Forgiving without punishment

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This post overlaps the last one a bit, but we will take it down a different path.  Number 9 on our list of ten ways to love  is:

Forgive without punishing.”

13 Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.   Colossians 3:13

 

"Forgiveness 4" by Carlos Latuff.

“Forgiveness 4” by Carlos Latuff. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Forgiveness is not for the one who hurt you; it is for you.

Forgiveness is not saying “it’s ok”; Forgiveness is saying I choose not to hold it against you.

Forgiveness clears out the icky stuff–the stuff that will lead to bitterness.

 

The real thing about this statement, however, is to forgive without punishment.   This kind of forgiveness is not forgiveness at all.

 

Forgiveness without punishing involves:

forgiveness

forgiveness (Photo credit: cheerfulmonk)

Not holding it against the person.

Not bringing it up every time you get angry (or at all).

Not using passive aggressive digs to make the person suffer for what they did.

Not saying, “I’ll forgive you, but. . . .”

Not holding on to it like a dog with a bone and using it to bash the other person.

 

When God forgives us of our sin, there is no longer any repercussion (eternal) for our sins.  Jesus paid the price and took the punishment.  Now, when God looks at the believer,  He sees His Son and His righteousness.  It is no longer laid to our account.  That’s the way forgiveness should be with us.

 

A few other remarks:

Forgiveness does not require the other person asking for forgiveness.

Forgiveness does not require staying with an abuser or trusting the untrustworthy.

 

Do you forgive without punishing?  Are you a grudge holder?   Have you felt the freedom of true forgiveness — for the self or for others?  Do you have anything to add?

 

Lessons in the Storm

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Every Summer, my oldest two granddaughters (and the other two, but they can do it during the school year too) get to stay ALONE with us for a week.  Any other time, the two girls are always together, so they need some Gma alone time.  Grandma loves it too – less need to discipline and more loving!!!  This week is my oldest granddaughter’s turn.

 

Storm Approaching Paradise - Coral Island, Phu...

Storm Approaching Paradise – Coral Island, Phuket, Thailand (Photo credit: Captain Kimo)

Friday evening, a storm blew through.  And I mean blew through.  My granddaughter and I were looking out our wall of windows, and the trees started tossing and bending all over.  Soon, a large part of one of our trees (a dead one we need to get rid of) landed in the front yard.  I personally adore storms, but my granddaughter is not a fan.  I took the opportunity to talk to her about storms and how the trees that bend in the wind were still standing.  These trees were still full of life and strength, but their branches went with the wind instead of resisting.

 

The dead trees had no life, no bend, nothing to hold on with, and they went down.  Actually another tree went down as well along with our neighbor’s new privacy fence.  My hubs was very glad that the trees are down.  He will have to cut them up for firewood, but he will not have to take them down.  The following are a much more detailed (deep) example of the things we (my granddaughter and I) talked about.

 

1.  When troubles storm your life, bend with the wind.  Don’t stand rigid and refuse to budge.  Change is inevitable.  Troubles are inevitable.  When we become inflexible and stubborn about life, it can take us down.  (Why me? Why NOT you?;  I don’t want to..)

 

2.  If you are a Christian, are you keeping close to the source?  Are you sucking up every drop of nourishment you can from the Living Waters?  When you remain supple through an intense relationship with the Root – Jesus – you can bend with any wind and remain strong and standing tall.  If you have stopped drawing from the Root, you may have dried up, back-slid, become apathetic, etc. about the things of God.  You, even with Christ as your Savior may still break if you don’t stay close to Him.

 

3.  If you are not a Christian, would you like to have a root system that will hold and sustain you through the storms?  Send me a private message at bryasy911@yahoo.com.

 

 

Did I mention we are without power?  Last night and today was spent without air-conditioning, lights, and all the other creature comforts I am so used to.  Over 100° temperatures haven’t helped.  This was a lesson for the gd in what life is like without all the conveniences we’re so used to (TV, internet, …).  She is not impressed.

 

When we do not stay close to the Power Source, we walk in darkness.  I, as most people, have had times where I was closer to God than other times.  Often the times of intense closeness happened during a life crisis.  When one of my children decided to check out some things (like a Satanic bible) in the senior year of high school, I had to engage in a fight for him.  I read books; I prayed; I quoted Scripture; I became so close to God I could feel His presence more strongly than at any time before or since.  I have not at any time needed God as much as I did then, even though there have been many hard times in my life.

 

I learned something through this.  I learned to battle for my children.  I learned to lean hard on God and not on Angie.  I learned the power of Scripture.  I learned much more than that, but for now, we’ll let that do.  When you have power in your life, it makes a world of difference.  You can continue to live in darkness, either as totally not connected to God through Salvation or as a follower who has slid into bad habits, or you can go to the light and let His power course through you.  It makes even more difference than the electricity in our homes.  It is an eternal difference.

 

The Granddaughter and I have also started working on teaching her about the Bible.  She loves to have me quiz her.  Today, we started making up index cards with the questions on one side and answers on the other, so she can study at home and we can concentrate our work.  I want my grandchildren to know about God and His works through the Bible.  While she’s willing to learn, I will do all I can to feed the need.

 

At some point, basics will not be enough, however.  I also talk to her about God (like the storm stuff) as we go through our day.  I point out God’s hand, and we talk about what it means to live for God, as well as practical ways to do so.  I want her (and the others) to have that Living Water and that Power in her life.

 

I don’t always know if I’ve said what I wanted to say, but I do my best, and I hope God will speak to you through the words you find here.

Ten ways to love: Be real

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Our 6th installment in the Ten ways to love series:

6.  Share without pretending.

Ephesians 4:15 –“15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:”

 

Hmmmmm, what does this mean?


This one is rather difficult.  I found others in my research who wondered about the connection between the statement and the chosen passage.

One response on yahoo answers:    Share without pretending means, Don’t pretend and do it because you actually want to. This is really what you desire to do. Not forceful desire but willingly desire. Without being a hypocrite or enforcing your pride or scam.

To that, I say, duh!  I mean, I agree.  This is an answer (and even the answer), but it doesn’t really tie in well with the passage.

 

A look at context

When you look at the context of the passage (see below), you find that Jesus is telling them to grow up in the Lord.  He tells them not to be like the Gentiles (unsaved), but to grow in Him, putting off the old man and being renewed in their mind.

 

The old man

I believe the passage, in saying speak the truth in love, is saying not to pretend to be what you’re not:  be truthful, be real, be a grown up in Christ.  When we share with others, do we do it for the right reasons?   Some people make donations for tax purposes or because it makes them look good.  While the charities they support appreciate the money, the motivation for the gift is questionable.  The donor pretends to be charitable, but it is not from the heart.

 

The new man

A person who has put off the old man, now has pure motives and gives in truth and without pretending.  He or she now gives because the love of Christ is present in his or her life.  I am not saying that people cannot be truly generous and sharing for the right reasons outside of God.  I am saying that a Christian who has matured in Christ will have a generous, sharing heart with no ulterior, hidden motives.  He or she will share without pretending, showing love, the love of Christ, generously and truthfully.

 

Secret Millionaire

As I type this, I am watching “Secret Millionaire”.  The Millionaire goes out incognito to check out various charities and then donates to them.  What we learn from this:

1.  When we share without pretending, we have to get out there, get in there, and get our feet wet.  There’s nothing wrong with charity from a distance, but if it’s possible to get in there and get to know people and help people, that is sharing without pretending.

2.  When we share without pretending, it makes a huge difference in the lives of those we share with.  Money is great, but when we share more — our talents, Christ’s love, everything we are — we touch people’s lives in ways we can’t even imagine, and we touch them for eternity.

 

►OK, that was my attempt at this one.  What do you think?  Can you find further answers in this passage? What about other ways to give without pretending?  I am open to hearing your thoughts on the subject.  Maybe one of you can clarify the connection for us. 🙂 

 

Ephesians 4:13-24:

“. . . 13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:

14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;

15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:

16 From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.

17 This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, . . . 20 But ye have not so learned Christ;

21 If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus:

22 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;

23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;

24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.”

Me? A Minister?

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In my class today, we discussed the term:  MINISTRY

When asked what this means, the general answers had to do with something a preacher does.  They didn’t understand that, a person in Christ, IS a minister, at least in the sense that we are all called to minister to others.  We are responsible to minister to those around us who have needs.  Whether the need is physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual, God calls each of us to be AWARE of needs around us.  Once we are aware of a need, He wants us to figure out how to meet that need.

The main points from the lesson:  1.  Ministry is NEEDED.  2.  Ministry is SELFLESS. and  3.  Ministry is VERTICAL (*attribution for these three points is below)

FMSC Distribution Partner - World Harvest Chri...

FMSC Distribution Partner – World Harvest Christian Ministries – (Photo credit: Feed My Starving Children (FMSC))

1.  Ministry is NEEDED.

Not many would argue with the first point.  People all around us are in need.  In fact, we are in need too.  God calls us to meet certain needs for certain people.  If He brings them to your awareness, you are probably the one He wants to work through.  One problem with this, however, is that we often have our head in our own business (or in our computer, cell phone, gaming system, …) and don’t see the needs that pass us by each day.   So our first step in seeing that Ministry is needed is to open our eyes and look outside ourselves.

2.  Ministry is SELFLESS.

Jesus on the wall of the senior Home

Jesus(Photo credit: freestone)

Our passage was Matthew 25:34-40 [see below] where Jesus rewards those who have ministered to Him.  Their response was, “Huh?  What?  When did we ever do anything for you?”  One reason for their surprise might have to do with point 2.  They just ministered as a natural thing.  They didn’t do it for reward.  They did it out of selflessness, and so didn’t see that they had done anything special like:  Minister to Jesus!I mean, if we knew we were ministering to Jesus, I’m guessing many more would step up to the plate.  Unfortunately for us, we minister to Jesus by ministering to ‘the least of these’.  That is that homeless man, the unwashed, the unlovely, etc.  They don’t look like Jesus.  In fact, they might look like someone we would want to stay far away from.  That’s part of the selflessness in ministering.  It’s putting your arm around someone who isn’t lovely or doesn’t smell so good.  It’s about being kind to someone who will then become your shadow because you were kind to them.  It’s about going beyond your own “ickies” and doing it anyway, without a second thought for your own comfort, but an over-arching concern for another human being.

 

Drawing (and idea) by Angela Young
[feel free to use with or without attribution]

3.  Ministry is VERTICAL

In the last point, ministry is about Jesus.  It’s about our relationship with God.  When we do unto the least, we do unto Jesus.  When we grow in our vertical relationship, we become more aware of the horizontal needs around us.  God often sends me people who are Christians but have fallen away from the church and God or people who are grieving.  This is one of my personal ministries because God has gifted me in this area.  While I have certainly ministered in other ways, and seen this type of ministry all my life through my parents, God tends to send me to the people He knows I will be the best help too.  I am also much more likely to have an awareness of those particular needs.

Do you have a personal ministry?  Where do your ministry gifts lie?   Are you willing to minister wherever God calls you?  Are your senses open to the needs of those around you?  Have you ever passed a ministry by because you were too busy or didn’t want to deal with the person?  I have to say yes to every one of these questions, and I must confess to developing a certain apathy at times.   I have also fallen into the “yeah, but I’m tired, I can’t do that, you don’t really need me, ….” syndrome as well.  I suspect I’m not alone.  Today, I confess any apathy in my heart and repent.

34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:

35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:

36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?

38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?

39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?

40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

*3 points of lesson and term AWARE taken from:   Life FOCUS Leader Guide (ISSN:  1945 – 0907; Item 005075013). Summer 2012.  June 17, Midweek plan.  Written by Joel Carter and Anna McKenzie.

Casting Crowns:  Does Anybody Hear Her?     http://youtu.be/viZ6H_2E7iU

Anyone want to give me a lesson in how to get these to embed?  Embed code doesn’t seem to work.  I hope you’ll click the link and listen to it though. 🙂

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