Sunday, July 15, 2012

Off to the Plain Community

 My dear friends. It seems that I am needed down in Caneyville for the next week or two.  Newest grandchild is due in a couple of weeks. They are in the middle of a huge tomato harvest and the heat and bugs are draining Mama and children.  An extra hand or two along with some Grammy hugs are in order. Pray for safety in travels and for son and hubby that I am leaving behind. 

See you in a couple of weeks.
In Christ Alone,

Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the ground each morning Satan says, "Oh crud, she's up".

Friday, July 13, 2012

A Dental Check-Up

Rich and I went to our regular dentist yesterday for a check-up.  I have friends who can’t stand going to the dentist but not me. I am weird in the dental hygiene arena.  I love having my teeth cleaned.  I was born with great genes for teeth.  My teeth are actually the size of baby teeth but they are rock solid.  There is one part of the cleaning though that is a little weird.  The hygienist will take a piece of gauze and ask me to stick out my tongue and grabs it.  Now I don’t know about you but I don’t typically pick up my tongue!  She moves it from side to side and turns it upside down and checks it.  When she did her tongue evaluation I had to chuckle.  That part of our mouth is powerful. In fact listen to this scripture;

Taming the Tongue
1  Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. 2 For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. 3 If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. 4 Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. 5 So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! 6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. 7 For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, 8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. 10 From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.
James 3:1-10 (ESV)

WOW!  After reading the above scripture aren’t you humbled?  I know I am.  The tongue is a mighty tool.  It can be used for good or evil.  James likens the tongue to a rudder of a ship. In comparison the rudder is so small to guide an entire ship but it has power.  Our tongues have great power. We can use our tongue to destroy or we can use our tongue to build up.  We each have a choice every single day.  How will you use it today?  For me I am going to spend the day taming that part of my body.  Now be encouraged and go and do likewise.  Till next time.
In Christ Alone,

Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the ground each morning Satan says, "Oh crud, she's up".

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Respectable Sins Part 1

 Remember the song, "Oh Be Careful Little Tongue What You Say?  I find that song kind of cute. In fact, I am back in the class on Wednesday nights with some kindergarteners.  I love to sing so that particular song. It is in my repertoire to sing with the children.  Confession though, I have decided after this week to chuck it out the window!
Our small group decided after doing the study of Respectable Sins to commit to a challenge for the week.  We each committed  to going 7 days with using Ephesians 4:29 as our guide.  Let me share it with you to refresh your memory.
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.  So we were supposed to keep this scripture foremost in our minds as we spoke.  Sounds easy, right?

Much to my utter surprise (I am sure we will be learning all about pride too) I had a challenge with this scripture.  It started less than 48 hours later.  I saw what I thought was an injustice and just asked a “simple” question.  God’s Spirit sure has a way with our hearts. One of his jobs is to convict us of our sins.  Mind you, not someone else’ sin but our sin.  The Spirit of God convicted me that the question I asked was really not a question at all but a way to attract attention to my perceived injustice.  I was a rat and I knew it. I had just sinned.  My speech was not used for building up, in fact it was just the opposite.  And my question certainly did not give grace to those who heard it. 

That is the problem with “respectable sins.”  Of course before I uttered the words my heart had already been lacking in grace.  Our speech is a challenge to tame as I learned this week. There are times when I speak before my head has time to think. That is when my mouth gets me into trouble. Happened as a kid too! 

I have been looking up some scriptures on the tongue and I have come to realize this topic needs more than one day. I seriously doubt I am the only one that needs some work on speech that builds up. SO join me tomorrow as we look into our mouths!

In Christ Alone,

Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the ground each morning Satan says, "Oh crud, she's up".

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

What is SIN?

In Jeff Bridge’s book Respectable Sins he talks about the church’s attitude toward sin.  He rightly claims that we get so worked up about our culture’s sin and neglect our own.  Who hasn’t looked at someone in our culture who really stands out and points the finger at their very public sins?  I doubt any of us could claim perfection on that one.  Why is it that we can get so worked up about someone outside the body who sins but ignore the sins in our own bodies? 

The book of James is filled with talk of sins. In fact James says something that changes our paradigm if we are honest with ourselves.
"If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. 9 But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it.
Ouch, so if I understand this correctly any sin no matter how small breaks God’s law.  Sin is lawlessness. 
 Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. 5 You know that he appeared to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. 1 John 3:4

I want to quote from the author because he said it much better than I.  “It is not just breaking a single command; it is a complete disregard for the law of God, a deliberate rejection of His moral will in favor of fulfilling one’s own desires.”  If you had asked me I would never want to say that I have a complete disregard for God’s law but that is what happens when I sin.  The second half of his statement though is truth.  It is a deliberate rejection of His moral will in favor of fulfilling one’s own desires.  We want to do it our way, don’t we? 

How many times do I want to do it the way I want to do it?  Plans, I got plans girlfriend.  Oh wretched woman that I am, who can save me?

There really is good news in all of this. God and God alone has a plan for our lives and it doesn’t include sin.  He can’t co-exist with sin.  Have you ever seen the bumper sticker with all kinds of pictures that spell out co-exist? I had to look it up to see what all the parts meant, here it is

Description: Every letter of the word "COEXIST" has a symbol that represents a system of thought
Text: "COEXIST" spelled with the crescent and star for Islam; the pentagram for Wicca; the relativity formula for science; the star of David for Judaism; the Karma Wheel dotting the i for Buddhism; the Tao symbol for Taoism; the cross for Christianity.

God can’t “co-exist with sin, period. 
“Sin is sin.  Even those sins that I call the “respectable sins of the saints- those that we tolerate in our own lives, are serious in God’s eyes. Our religious pride, our critical attitudes, our unkind speech about others, our impatience and anger and even our anxiety. All of these are serious in the sight of God.” I could not have said it as well.  I am deeply humbled, how about you?
Tomorrow we will talk about our unkind speech. Join me, won’t you?
In Christ Alone,

Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the ground each morning Satan says, "Oh crud, she's up".

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Gratituesday July 10th

 I have wanted to write this Gratituesday for a couple of weeks now and just haven’t found the words to write what is in my heart.
I saw a real miracle once and not a little miracle but a big huge miracle.  Some of you are probably ready to close this up and call me a quack. For those who decide to stay let me share the miracle.

Years ago when we only had three children, affectionately called Team A, we adopted a beautiful son named after Rich.  Richard was a true gift from God. You see we had decided before ever marrying that someday we would adopt “special needs” children. I had called every adoption agency and the local social services and we did not qualify.  We either made too much money, not enough money, had too many children or had the wrong colored skin.  Yep, you read that right. Back in the early 1980’s you were not allowed to adopt a child that did not have the same skin color as you.  It seemed at the time that we would never get to adopt a “special needs” child.  Everyone wants to adopt a white healthy baby.  We wanted to do it to give God the glory and serve children who are overlooked.

The congregation we were attending at the time knew of our challenge. They prayed with us.  One day our minister got a call from a friend of his that happened to be a lawyer.  That lawyer happened to go to a congregation where a young lady attended that while in college found herself with an unplanned pregnancy.  She really wanted her baby to be raised in a Christian home and asked the lawyer to find a family.  Back then, open adoptions were unheard of.  72 hours after Richard was born we waited in a K-Mart near the hospital, waiting for the lawyer to bring us our new baby.

At the time we didn’t have a clue why God chose us. We didn’t want a white healthy baby but we seemed to get one and didn’t know why.  Well, that is till 6 weeks after we was born.  He went from being a happy, healthy bouncing baby boy to a very sick little baby in the matter of minutes.  The doctors were sure he had meningitis.  They were so sure that when the actual test came back they failed to find the problem.  He did not have meningitis but he did have something worse. We were released from the hospital without anyone knowing the test results. They sat there for 2 years before they were read.

Being a military family we of course were sent the next week to our new duty station all the way across the country.  We moved with a baby who got sicker and sicker the farther we went from home. I will never forget the long drive.  Baby Richard screamed and screamed. Every bump we went over on the drive he screamed. If the sun hit his face he screamed.  The only time he was quiet was the first 15 minutes after a feeding.  We were at our wits end by the time we arrived at the new base.

I made an appointment for the next day at the base hospital. The pediatrician we saw thought there was nothing wrong with the baby.  He thought I was just over feeding him!  He sent me home thinking I was some kind of crazy woman who didn’t know how much to feed her son.  Two weeks later Richard had gotten much worse. By this point he could not hold his head up. Any sound and he would scream.  Not just your average baby scream but a high pitched shrill of a scream. I knew deep inside there was something terribly wrong.

I called the pediatric clinic on base and said I needed an appointment and I needed it NOW and please do not send me to the fist pediatrician because I had no confidence in him!  I got a new pediatrician, a female to boot.  She listened, really listened to all my concerns and then spent the next 30 minutes really examining Richard.  When she was done she looked at me and said that she wanted a bunch of tests run on his brain.  I thought it was some sort of ulcer in his stomach since he only stopped screaming for a few minutes after each feeding.  I asked her to please check out his stomach after nothing was found in the brain.  She said she would and I went home.

The next morning I got a call from a clinic saying I had an appointment in an hour with Dr. So and So.  When I got there I was sure I had gone to the wrong clinic because it was an ophthalmology  clinic.  No they said, they were expecting me.  I was totally confused and could not for the life of me understand why the pediatrician who seemed so caring and competent the day before had sent me to an ophthalmologist.  An hour later tears just streamed down my face before the doctor had to say a word. How could I have missed it?  What was wrong with me God that I could not even tell my precious new baby was blind?

Blind, my baby would never see the sun rise was my first thought. He would never see his mama’s face.  I was a broken woman at that instant. My mind just reeled. I was sent upstairs to the Commander of the hospital. Since he was adopted they wanted to obtain all the medical information there was. Sitting in the Colonel’s office I was a wreck. Poor Richard is screaming and I am crying.  Then the Colonel made a fatal mistake.  His first words after knowing the circumstances was this.  “You know M’am, the adoption isn’t final for another couple of months, I suggest you just give him back.  I felt like I had just been smacked over the head with a two by four. On his desk I saw a beautiful picture of his family which included some children.  I asked him pretty forcefully if those were his children and he said of course they were.  I then asked him if he had just found out one of his children was blind would he just give them back?  He then said, well of course not but they are my children.  “This little baby is OUR son and never speak to me about giving him back again”

After that I was shaking and called my husband at a pay phone crying and telling him what was wrong with Richard.  After the conversation I hung up and took our baby home.  Lots of tears were shed that night but what stood out then and stands out now was Serenity’s reaction.  Serenity was 5 years old and adored her baby brother.  I tried to explain to her that he would never see her face or the sunrise.  That little girl was emphatic.  “No, she calmly said. God is going to heal him.” Now I have to be honest here. My first reaction was no way. God doesn’t heal like that anymore. How could I explain to Serenity that the God she loved was not going to heal her baby brother?  I said what truthfully I really didn’t believe.  I told her that yes God could heal but he chooses not to. Perhaps God wanted Richard to grow up and preach the gospel and tell people his story about being blind. You remember the song, I once was blind but now I see? No matter what I said Serenity very calmly told us that she just knew God was going to heal him.

All the records are still intact.  He was blind.  We were flown to a hospital far away with better testing tools and yes indeed Richard was blind.  Somehow though a faithful little girl prayed a prayer that was honored.  Three months later Richard regained his sight. First his right eye was healed and the next day his left eye was healed. The doctors had told me because atrophy had already occurred it was medically impossible to reverse it.  God healed our son in a miraculous way.

I don’t have the answers as to why.  All I know is a little girl believed and he was healed.  Does that always happen, no.  Years later our son David laid in an ICU bed and died. Why, didn’t we pray hard enough?  Why LORD?  I don’t know a lot but one thing I do know is this. Our God is sovereign.  He can give and He can take away. God just asks us to pray with faith that the sick will be healed.

I told you all that to say this.  It appears that God is starting to heal my husband Rich.  I hesitate though.  Will I look silly if he goes back into being bed bound again and near death?  Do I have the courage to say, it would appear that God really is healing my husband?. I don’t know the plans God has for Rich.  I don’t know why my husband was struck down but I do know this.  We have remained faithful and God has NEVER left our side.

Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the ground each morning Satan says, "Oh crud, she's up".

Monday, July 9, 2012

Respectable Sins

Words are funny aren’t they?  A word can change drastically over time.  Look at the word saint.  We never, ever call someone a saint these days. When I think of a saint I think of Mother Teresa.  A woman who gave up every comfort to serve the unlovely.  The Catholic church though is not ready to grant her the status of a saint.  So if Mother Teresa isn’t considered a saint what chance do you and I have?  You might be surprised!

Paul called the Christians at Corinth saints.  In the first book of Corinthians they were a train wreck.  You name the sin and they did it. I have to say I would not want to be a part of a congregation that flaunts their sins like the Corinths did.  Could it be that the word saints is something else? The actual word means “someone separated unto God.”   

What would saints be separated for?  Let’s look at Titus 2:14

 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people… 14  who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. He has made us saints for himself who happen to be zealous for good works.  Don’t miss it precious friend. He is the one of who makes us saints, not our works.

Sin is another word that has changed.  Can you remember a time where someone shared with you a “challenge?”  We don’t want to use the name sin unless of course that person is a pagan!  We don’t ever say someone is committing adultery anymore. We say they are having an affair.  Or what about the teenager that is singing on the praise team committing fornication. We say her and her husband are shacking up.  We simply  don’t use the words anymore. 

Sinners and saints. How do we act like the saints  that God has called us to?  In our small group on Sunday nights we are studying a book called Respectable Sins, Confronting the Sins We Tolerate by Jeff Bridges.  He uses an example that is  very near and dear to my heart.  Taking raw, 18 year old high school graduates and in 4 years time turn them into  Air Force officers. How does the staff at the Academy accomplish such a feat?

The Air Force Academy is in my hometown, Colorado Springs.  Each fall the town newspaper does a special section for the new recruits. They take some pictures of the newbies coming in.  A few of the incoming cadets are showcased in the paper.  Most of them come to the gates of the base and kiss mommy and daddy good-bye.  They walk in and their lives become transformed.  They give up their civilian clothes for the military’s. They get their heads shaved.  They eat, drink and sleep military style. All in hopes of turning these young cadets into young men and young women ready to lead the troops.  It takes the military 4 years to get them to the point where they can function as officers. 

Like the cadets God tries to transform our lives.  We take off the old clothes and put on the new by transforming our hearts and minds.  Like the Corinthians he teaches us to shed the sinful life and embrace the life available through Christ.  Now I don’t know about you but I look at sins in categories.    You know what I am talking about right?  Adultery, fornication, stealing and murdering are just plain wrong.  Satan never tempts me with these sins. Good thing since these sins are HUGE, right? You wouldn’t catch me doing such things!

Hmm, well according to the LORD there is plenty of sin in my life.  To Him there are no little sins and big sins.  Do you know what happens to an Air Force Officer who blows it and lands himself in a heap of trouble?  It is called “conduct unbecoming an officer.”  Well, I have “conduct unbecoming a Christian” and it isn’t very pretty.

We will be talking about the sins that we as a church consider “respectable.”  It won’t be very pretty but I think the journey will be worth it. 
Join me if you can.

In Christ Alone,

Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the ground each morning Satan says, "Oh crud, she's up".