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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

 

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.

 

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. . . .

 

 

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?

 

 

Ten Ways to love: Accusations

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The second statement in our ‘Ten ways to love’ series is this:

Anger

Anger: an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured. (Photo credit: baejaar)

2.  Speak without accusing.

The verse:  James 1:19:  Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:

I find this one very difficult because it’s so hard to keep accusation out at times.   Because it’s more difficult to see my own stuff, I’m afraid I will have to use what I see in others as examples here.  I am not casting the first stone, however, because I can accuse with the best of them at times.

The backhanded question

A certain person is quite good at speaking with accusation behind seemingly innocent words, usually in the form of questions.  “Why is the front door open?”  translates to “Why didn’t you shut the door, do you want to heat the whole world?”   Implied (and often spoken after the statement) is the hard work trying to earn money to pay the bills while everyone else wastes money like it grows on trees.  This is speaking with accusation.

I saw ‘evidence’ and, I know you’re guilty!

Sometimes, we speak with accusing when we haven’t received all the information needed.  This one seldom happens a LOT in relationships.  If you’ve ever caught some of the Maury Povich type shows, you see people coming on with accusation oozing out of their pores!  I saw a text on your phone, so you MUST be having an affair.  “I only slept with 5 people, but I know you’re the dad.  So why aren’t you stepping up to the plate to take care of YOUR child?”   “I saw you look at her, you don’t love me!”    And so on ad nauseam!!!  This way comes by jumping to conclusions and attacking rather than waiting for more information and strangling him in his sleep DISCUSSING it in an adult manner.

How could you?

Sometimes, in a similar vein to above, we assume another’s motives.  It’s entirely possible we’re wrong, but we think we can read minds, so….  Another person I know seems to be able to find a negative motive in most anything.  I probably attribute good motives more than I should, but I’d rather give a person a chance than to assume  wrongly.  People have different love languages (and other filters), and sometimes they mean well, even if the results are not what they intended.  For example, when my husband does something for me, like going to work every day or fixing a problem, he is saying, “I love you!”   Because I did not understand this for a few years, I attributed wrong motives and didn’t believe he loved me.  I was wrong and caused a lot of heartache to myself and him.   Sometimes we can just accept people, and their motives, at face value.

A Person (Man) exclaiming something

A Person (Man) exclaiming something (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Political Debates gone wrong

If you’ve ever watched a debate, and I use that term loosely.  How often do you hear accusations flying?  Uh, yeah, all the time!  Rather than defending one’s own take on the issues, deflection techniques muddy the waters.  Personally, I would rather hear what a candidate believes than the mistakes of his/her opponent.   A person that can stick with the issues and not get sucked into the vortex of distraction gets my respect.  This type of conversation (no matter who is doing the ‘debating’) should keep the focus on the person speaking and not the other person through accusation and idiocy.

The Children

We do this to children all the time.  They bring us a flower and we yell at them for picking it.  They want to hug us, but we accuse them of ‘bugging’ us or being to clingy.

The rest of the story

If you read the next verse in James, it says, ”

20 For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.”

 

I memorized this scripture many years ago and use it often to remind me that my anger, accusations, judgments, etc. do not work God’s righteousness.  In fact, they often get in the way and turn others away from God.  In order to show love, it is necessary to tame that tongue and give thought to our words before we allow them out of our mouth.  No one is perfect, but sometimes that extra second of thought will save some heartache for all.

Have you ever jumped to conclusions and wrongly accused someone?   Have you rightly accused them, but to the relationship’s detriment due to the way you handled it?  Have you attributed negative motives to someone and accused them by word or deed?  Do you distract through accusation in a fight, debate, discussion, argument?  Have you brushed a child aside and spoken with accusation to them?  What are some other ways we speak with accusing?

Confessions of an Enabler by Angela Masters Young

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Did you know that I like to help people?  I have a deep love for others and a desire to see them reach their potential.  That’s a good thing, right?

Right!  It is a good thing and comes from learning at the feet of my Mother, many years of following Christ, and some natural inclination.  However, like anything else, a gift out of balance becomes a flaw.  Our gifts or special abilities, when out of balance, often lead to our greatest weaknesses.  I have found this true in every area of my life.

At one time in my life, I was soooo stupid helpful that I became an enabler — and a TARGET!  I didn’t realize that taking on all those ‘helpful’ tasks for others, was keeping them from taking responsibility themselves.  I took responsibility for everything!  Often people didn’t even have to ask, they just had to hint, and I’d jump right in.  Sounds great, but it wasn’t.

First, people began to use me, or they would just assume “Angie will do it!”.  (Reminds me of the Mikey commercial — “Get Angie, she’ll do anything.”)  I allowed others to manipulate me because of my desire to help and serve  was out of balance.

I will save this story for another post, but it took a tragedy some major hard knocks to bring me to my senses.  In my eagerness to help, I had harmed myself and my family.  I had also harmed the people I had helped so assiduously!  Now there’s nothing wrong with helping people out when they need it, but it has to remain in balance, or it becomes enabling.  Enabling allows someone to not take responsibility for his or her own actions.  This is wrong.

I still have to watch this carefully.  I have realized recently that in an attempt to “be all things to all people”, I have allowed my priorities to slip again. I am no longer an enabler, and I don’t take hints at all.  If you want something from me, you must ask (and understand if I say no — or not but your problem, not mine).  But, I have still allowed my helper gene to cause me to give time tneeded elsewhere to others.  Right now I am helping out with my Dad (because I’m the only one who doesn’t have a “job” — it’s REALLY hard to retrain family!); we also get my Mother-in-law frequently, who is 86 and has dementia.  I have a husband who often gets neglected while I am busy at these and other tasks.

Sometimes life happens.  I get that.  However, I have felt conviction (often from some of your posts Anne Marie Dwyer in particular) about the use of my time.  When stressors come into one’s life, such as taking care of an elderly parent, you have to let some other things go.  It just isn’t possible to live life as you lived it before.  I have tried to do so anyway!  INSANE!

So I have assesed my priorities as I make room in my life for frequent trips south to my Dad’s again.  If I don’t show up here or on your blogs as often, this is why.  I would love to read them all and pay them forward, but I have neglected other important things to do so.  I am aware that, if necessary, some of you will get along just fine without me (ack, what a concept!) but I hope you will forgive me and be patient with me as I seek to gain and maintain balance in my life.  This post isn’t really about my internet reading and helping (unasked for by any of you). It’s about me trying to find balance after finding a new load added to my plate. I’ve taken facebook off my phone and stopped trying to keep up with every post of every friend already (I told you I’m an idiot 🙂 ).  I’ve declined some volunteer work (church) that I’d really like to do.  I have said no to a lot of things I wish I didn’t have to.  One step at a time, I am seeking to change my backsliding and find me again.

What about you?  Do you rush to help others while allowing important things to slide?  Do you have trouble weeding out the good, so you can focus on the best?  Do you take time for yourself amidst your busy schedule?  If you want, what are some tips you use to keep your priorities in line?  Do you have strengths you’ve allowed to get out of balance and become flaws?  Are you eager to help others, even at the expense of your self and family?

What? I have to repent?

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Salvation involves three steps.  I will use the ABCs that we use for Vacation Bible School to simplify.

A — admit to God that you are a sinner and REPENT and turn away from your sins.

B — believe that Jesus is the Son of God, and accept His gift of forgiveness.

C — confess your faith in Jesus as your Savior and your Lord, forever more        (Partial lyrics from the Tumbleweed song)

btw – believing is not enough.  I can believe that a chair will hold me, but that belief means nothing till I test it out by sitting in it.  The Bible says that “…the demons also believe, and tremble.” (James 2:19)

~*~

This post is born of my prayer time this morning.  It makes me so sad that people I know and care about claim to be Christians, and yet live as if they are anything but.  Even Christians are not perfect by any means, but when you live in blatant sin, with no idea that it might be wrong (or not caring), that’s a problem.

~*~

Problem 1:  Ignorance

One problem we can lay at the feet of the church and the lack of Christian mentoring and teaching.  The newest generation is more ignorant about the things of God than any one I have seen before it.  I am often amazed at what they do not know — even the basics are new to them!  How did this come about?  What went wrong that in a matter of a few generations, things have changed so much?  So many churches seem to have a watered down version of Christianity, or they just do not meet the teaching/discipleship needs of upcoming generations (I know, personally, I had many discipleship opportunities that are not available today).  How can these kids make it in such a wicked world without a foundation?

~*~

Problem 2:  Church drift.

This concept is not new to me and relates to problem 1.  Often as the world drifts farther and farther into wickedness, the church drifts right along with it.  We are still different from the world, but we are both far away from the standards of God.

<———–World————————–Church——————————————————GOD

. . . . . . . . . .|____________________| |____________________________________|

This may remain static               But this grows larger and larger

When the Church (the Christian body, not a building) drifts from the things of God, God calls for them to REPENT.

If my people, who by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”  2 Chronicles 7:14     If the church needs repentance, what hope has the world?  How many people do we send to hell because we do not repent?

~*~

Problem 3: Lack of Repentance

I see those who want to skip the repentance part of the equation.  They are among the “God is love, so He will forgive me later.” crowd.  Or, they are among the crowd that now insists on saying that sin, especially those things specifically covered in the Bible, are not sin at all.  Our children, indoctrinated in the schools, by Television and Movies, by their role models, etc., come to believe that sin is not such a bad thing or that sin is not sin.  May it never be!

Some know of their need of repentance, but choose not to.

Others are told there is no need of repentance, either because they don’t realize they are sinning, or because they just don’t see the need to change their lives.

Repent —->  TURN AWAY —->  Make a U-Turn —> Stop going one way and go the opposite way.

That in a nutshell is repentance.  If I sin as a Christian, I do not do it with impunity.  The law of God is inside my heart, and it causes me to have a deep sorrow for blowing it.  This draws me back to God through confession and repentance.

“To be sensible and truly discerning of sin is to sorrow for displeasing of God; to be afflicted that He is displeased by us more than that He is displeased with us.”  John Bunyan

~*~

Today’s Christian seems to want the benefits of forgiveness without the burden of repentance.  Drugs, addictions, sex outside marriage, language issues, and so much more abound within the “Christian” community.

Why?  Because there is no repentance of sins?  I’m sure it’s not as simple as all that, but that’s a big part of it.  This makes me so sad because I have to wonder if we have people walking around thinking they are Christians when they are not.

The solution?  Well, I guess that goes back to the verse above.  “If my people….”  If those of us who know get right with God, He will heal our land and wake up our zombyism slumbers and heal our land.

~*~

As always, my posts are often me thinking aloud, trying to make sense of the things I see around me.  I have a knowledge base to work with, but I’m not God, so I get things wrong sometimes.  I hope you’ll be patient with me and join along with me as we seek understanding of God’s truth.

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