Category Archives: Following in Faith

Rich or Poor?

God’s word is such an amazing gift.  Never failing to assure me of His presence, His written word sustains my soul.   It’s not easy to be reminded of my former self prior to my knowing the truth of the gospel, nor is it easy at times to keep myself standing firm.  The worldly obstacles that pop up like gophers in the Whack the Gopher arcade games come when I least expect them.  Yet, the Lord’s grace falls upon my quiet time and brings me closer to Him reminding me who I am now and the promise of what is yet to come.

In yesterdays quiet time study, I was reading Spurgeon’s morning devotional and it was from Galations 2:10,  ‘Remember the poor’.  As it started out asking the question of ‘Why does God allow so many of His children to be poor?’ my first answer prior to continuing on was “So that he can fill their hearts with Him and with treasurers of the written word.”  I had stopped reading after the first question to contemplate the gifts that are offered to us from a God who has already given more than any of us on earth can give.  He offers these gifts to those who he calls by name.

(John 10:3 – To him the gatekeeper opens.  The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.  John 10:7-9 “Truly truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers but the sheep did not listen to them.  I am the door.  If anyone enters by me, he will be saved an will go in and out and find pasture.)

I did end up reading the rest of Spurgeons morning devotional and he took the study in a different direction, reminding that the Lord has all the control in the world to give his children all their wants and riches, yet he holds back, ‘allowing them to suffer want’.  The reason for this is explained by Spurgeon that God wants to ‘give us, who are favored with enough, an opportunity of showing our love to Jesus’.  Through prayer, song and ministering of the truth to the poor in spirit,  we have the opportunity to show God’s love through the caring of the poor.  Leading with a loving heart toward the riches of salvation and an eternity with an everlasting loving Shepherd.

As I continued on to the study I have been working on in Psalm 119.  I read Psalm 119: 9-16 and was overwhelmed at the words before me and their correlation to the devotional…

9 How can a young man keep his way pure?  By guarding it according to your word.  10 With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! 11  I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.  12 Blessed are you, O Lord; teach me your statutes!  13 With my lips I declare all the rules of your mouth.  14 In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches.  15 I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways.  16 I will delight indoor statutes; I will not forget your word. 

I read Calvins’ commentary and then Mathew Henrys’.  Although I gleaned a greater understanding of the Psalm passage  through both authors, I was particularly struck by Henry it’s relationship to my morning reading by Spurgeon.  Here are some of my take aways:

v. 9 – Making the word of God the rule, following it, studying it, and making it a priority in youth and in life protects and guards, cleansing oneself more than any other form

charting ones own course only end up steering self into a course of destruction; lost; empty;

comfort comes from following the course set out by the Lord;  through the trust and faith of His word, and all that He sets before us;  our path may be winding and narrow, yet He is our guide;  the written word should not be taken lightly and without ponder

v. 10 – pleasure comes from the keeping of God’s commandments;  we will wander less off the path if we stay focused on preserving what is before us in the written word

v. 11 – (this one particularly struck me and kept me thinking all day…)  Hiding the word in our heart; knowing it, preserving it’s truth and living it out;  by hiding it in the heart it cannot be stolen, lost;  ‘It’s a treasure worth laying up.’ (Henry’s words)  (A treasure…hidden in one self; so that even if the mind fails, it’s held within the heart and kept safe.)

(again, Henrys’ words)  Good men are afraid of sin, and are in care to prevent it; the most effectual way to prevent is to hide God’s word in our hearts that we may answer every temptation, as ourMaster did, with, It is written.

v. 12 – continually pray that the Lord will teach and provide; praise Him for His continued blessings

v. 13-16 – the filling of the word in the heart allows for the sharing of the word; (Henrys’ wordsThose whose hearts are fed with the bread of life should with their lips feed many. ; obedience brings rejoicing; truth in the gospel brings ‘riches in Christ’.

(Henrys’ words)  Good thoughts produce good works and good intentions in them ; mediation on God’s word provides a safety net without fear or danger in forgetting.

The Riches in Christ are from the study, perseverance and preservation of God’s word.  The promises are complete, unwavering and secure for those He calls by name.  What a blessing that no matter how poor we are in status on this earth or how poor we are in spirit, we have a guide and a guidebook that can walk us through every step of the way.  As the sheep who are called to follow, and as those who are already rich with the truth overflowing, and preserved in the security of our hearts, we can share the riches of Christ and the sustaining truth with others who do not know the comfort and peace otherwise.

To God be the glory in all things.  Be blessed sweet reader as you go forth in this troubling world and know that there is peace if it is sought, held tight and hidden away in the heart.

The Value Of A Christmas Gift

The day has arrived.  The gifts are strategically placed under the tree.  The children arise with excitement while breakfast warms in the oven.

Quickly, the morning passes by.  The mimosa’s were sipped and the table was cleared while all who enjoyed sat with full stomachs relaxing to sounds of Christmas music and small talk.  It seems as though the day has brought joy and cheer.   Yet, there is a longing in the heart for more.  Something that cannot be purchased in a store.  Something that cannot be planned.  Something greater than anyone can explain or put a monetary amount to.  The salvation of a lost soul.

Given this day, the awaited Messiah was presented to  a fallen  humanity.  The birth of a child that will save sinners from death.  The knowledge of Him and His saving grace is by itself is the greatest gift given on this Christmas day.  That we recognize the importance of God’s gracious gift and His unconditional love makes all the fuss of the celebration seem insignificant.  The true blessing and true gift of immeasurable splendor…Our Lord Jesus Christ!

From our family to yours, we wish all a Merry Christmas.

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Hoping that everyone will take a moment to read this blog post.  It’s a wonderful thought provoking post.

https://chantrynotes.wordpress.com/2015/12/24/what-if-jesus-never-came/

A Wasted Verb

Prairie Dog:  "Guess I should have quickly eaten it so that the bird wouldn't have had the opportunity to snatch it." Prairie Dog:  "Thank you for sharing your lunch with me.  I've been waiting for someone as nice as you to share."
Prairie Dog: “Guess I should have quickly eaten it so that the bird wouldn’t have had the opportunity to snatch it.”
Prairie Dog: “Thank you for sharing your lunch with me. I’ve been waiting for someone as nice as you to share.”

Regret: verb-feel sad, repentant, disappointed over (something that has happened or been done, especially a loss or missed opportunity).

How many times in our lives do we use the word regret?  Why?

Not to long ago I had a learning opportunity to speak with my children about that word.  We discussed that regret should not be a word that they use in their lives.  It’s one of those words that is like the word Hate.  We should never hate anything.  We may dislike something, yet we don’t hate something.  Regret is much like that.  It’s another strong verb used to describe something that is unrealistic.  You’re likely asking me what I mean by that.

Well, I have said for years that using the word regret, only makes one then realize that if they regret one thing, they have to regret a whole lot of things.  If you regret a decision you made that had disastrous consequences, then you have to regret a lot more things that went along with that decision and you also have to regret the lessons learned from those decisions.  It’s like a gerbil wheel that keeps on spinning and never stops.

If you regret marrying someone, then you would also have to regret having children as well as those years spent with that family,  likely calling them wasted.  If you claim to regret that you didn’t get a higher education, then you also have to regret the path you then chose to take, even if it was a necessary decision to make you realize you needed that higher education.  What about a decision made regarding health?   Goodness knows that doctors, family and friends can all make us feel guilty about how we eat or how we take care of ourselves.   Yet, when the time comes that our eyes are opened to better ways, if we regret the earlier path we would not be able to see how far we’ve come in progressing to a better place.  Or even when it comes to some pretty serious medical decisions.  Should chemo be the best option?  Should alternative medicine be the best?  What about those mammograms and preventative screenings?  If and or when something changes with our health and we become seriously ill, what is the first thing many people say?  “I regret not doing that….”   Like I said, a strong verb that can only bring about more sadness than necessary.  A word that contains a whole lot of disappointment and many times can be tied in with a whole lot of guilt.

I remember some years back when my mom and I had discussions regarding some decisions I had personally made in my own life.  I was young enough to be under the roof of my parents yet old enough to be considered an adult.  My mom said she had regretted allowing me to do this or that and that she felt guilty over not guiding me in a different direction.  I remember thinking about that and also saying that I didn’t regret it and that she shouldn’t either.  That the decisions I made, no matter the outcome, were learning lessons in my own life.  I needed to go through those things in order to become the woman I am today.  If I had not learned through that school of hard knox, I’m not sure who I would be now nor where I would be.  I’m not saying that it’s not sad that I made some wrong decisions, yet those wrong decisions led to an understanding about how I needed to grow.  They helped me to see who I wanted to be and where I wanted to go.

I’ve used a lot of “I’s” in that last paragraph, of which is normal when speaking of one’s self.  However, it is with great joy that one of those lessons learned was that “I” was not in control of any of it.  Something greater was awakening within me of which I was not even aware until a few years later.   A generic definition of sanctification is “the state of proper functioning”.  To sanctify someone or something is to set that person or thing apart for the use intended by its designer. (BibleStudytool.com)   When God opened my eyes and began to show me who He is, I also began to realize that I could not have gotten to a place of peace and understanding in Him until I had gone through the things that most people want to call “regret”.

There are so many blessings that have come out of my personal walk on this journey in this life.  All of which I can honestly say came from “lessons”, not regret.

You may be asking yourself where in the world am I going with this and why blog about this.  Well, to explain, the last week I’ve intermittently been listening to a documentary on the truth about cancer.  I have watched many in heartache over their own “regret” in lack of knowledge.  It has made me consider how many people go through their days regretting how they live, what they say and what decisions they make.  Sorrow overtakes them and they forget that each decision or action or word spoken that makes them have that regret has actually led them to a place of recognition.  So I felt that I needed to share with others that rather than letting sorrow or disappointment over take you and your future, pray about what you have learned and ask for guidance in going forward.

Don’t waste your energy and time in regret or spend time in bitterness over disappointment, be grateful for the opportunity to learn and grow.   Perhaps, this recognition of the past is the beginning of a new journey going forward.  Perhaps also, a door has been opened to see something new and to learn new tools in dealing with situations going forth.

Isaiah 35

The Ransomed Shall Return

The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad;
the desert shall rejoice and blossom like the crocus;
it shall blossom abundantly
and rejoice with joy and singing.
The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it,
the majesty of Carmel and Sharon.
They shall see the glory of the LORD,
the majesty of our God.

Strengthen the weak hands,
and make firm the feeble knees.
Say to those who have an anxious heart,
“Be strong; fear not!
Behold, your God
will come with vengeance,
with the recompense of God.
He will come and save you.”

Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
and the ears of the deaf unstopped;
then shall the lame man leap like a deer,
and the tongue of the mute sing for joy.
For waters break forth in the wilderness,
and streams in the desert;
the burning sand shall become a pool,
and the thirsty ground springs of water;
in the haunt of jackals, where they lie down,
the grass shall become reeds and rushes.

And a highway shall be there,
and it shall be called the Way of Holiness;
the unclean shall not pass over it.
It shall belong to those who walk on the way;
even if they are fools, they shall not go astray.a
No lion shall be there,
nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it;
they shall not be found there,
but the redeemed shall walk there.
And the ransomed of the LORD shall return
and come to Zion with singing;
everlasting joy shall be upon their heads;
they shall obtain gladness and joy,
and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

 

 

 

 

America and Church

“Many congregations in denominations we thought we could trust are simply not churches.”  Chantrynotes Aug. 7

There is not much more to say on the matter, Tom has summed up much of a cultural disaster here in America.  Who’s to blame?   What do we as Christians do?  What is our responsibility?   What is the responsibility of the church?

Hope you will continue reading the last two posts on the matter.

https://chantrynotes.wordpress.com/2015/08/06/i-blame-us-part-4-the-failure/

https://chantrynotes.wordpress.com/2015/08/07/i-blame-us-part-5-the-recovery/

Thoughts…

Just as my own posts touch some and slide by others, there are posts from fellow bloggers that I read over and over and then there are those that I skim.  Some have meaning to me and some do not.  I try to be compassionate to the writer by reading as much as I can and trying to take an interest, just as I hope others do for my writing.  In a busy world it’s not always easy.

All that being said, when I see a post that absolutely should be shared with others and is thought provoking, I try to share it here.  Not often enough, yet I make efforts when I can.

The last three days there have been some posts that I think are worth sharing here and I hope will be opened and read and shared again.  Thought provoking and well written.

https://chantrynotes.wordpress.com/2015/08/03/i-blame-us-part-1-the-collapse/

https://chantrynotes.wordpress.com/2015/08/04/i-blame-us-part-2-the-law/

https://chantrynotes.wordpress.com/2015/08/05/i-blame-us-part-3-the-rejection/

 

Judgement Of Self

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Trials in our lives come in many shapes, sizes and severities.    The type of trial in our lives can sometimes be so  overwhelming to the soul that if not managed properly can turn our hearts toward bitterness, defeat, and death.

Starting this blog 2 years ago, it was an avenue to express myself during a trial of illness.  It has been a wonderful way of expression and a way to reach out to others so that I can share my own experience in overcoming and accepting.  My illness was only one of many trials I have had to overcome in my life and was certainly not the worst.   With great encouragement I found that the Lord never left my side and I was confident of His presence over my life and that of my family.  Just as He had in other, more devastating times.  With the help of a handful of wonderful sisters in Christ I had fellowship, with the daily hands on help of my family I was cared for physically, and I was nourished daily in the Word by the faith that tenders my heart.

That being said, I was taken aback by an assumption made that I was in need of feeding due to my lack of faith and or doubts that my illness had provoked.  What?  Really?  As I pondered this assumption by a loving soul, I began to pray about it and ask those closest to me at that time if that was truly what I had shown to others.  Politely they replied the opposite, which then had me questioning myself and if I had been truly honest with my internal feelings.  I had to take what was implied, consider what had been true to others who actually spent time with me during that time and take an observation of my own mind, heart and faith.   The similarities of Job and his strength turning to doubt because of assumptions became very evident to me in a very short amount of time.  Prayerfully with thanksgiving, I was reassured with my past prayer journaling  and my blogging.

As the days passed in my dwelling on this, I began to make my own judgements and fell into sin making assumptions of someone else’s intentions, which I should not have.  I began to pray over this and with great comfort felt convicted that the judgement someone placed over me helped me to realize that I too am capable of and do judge others.  As that one conversation sparked a hurt in me, I began to consider others  and judge them as I had been judged.  It, in my mind, began to look like a merry go round without an end.  The hurt I felt, was being passed on to others through my own judging.  Not acceptable!

I feel that the privilege of knowing how I was perceived by someone outside of my caring few was that I was able to see myself pridefully begin to judge others as less than myself, including the person that made an inaccurate assumption about my own trial and my faith.   Painful as it may sound, I see it as a blessing.  I have thus been able to pray about it, repent for it, and pray for those who I have judged and for those who judge me.  I also have had the blessing of wanting to do more to set an example that would glorify God in my healing and overcoming.  For many do not know that which lies in my heart and that which the Lord has placed in my path.  Just as sweetly as the Lord has guided me through, I pray that He will also guide those who struggle, not just with trials, yet also with doubt and sin.

I thank the Lord for this lesson, as sad as it made me feel.   I consider it to be a blessing that I was shown my own sin through that which was presented by another.

In reading C.H. Surgeon – A Popular Exposition to the Gospel according to Matthew Chapter 7, I found my observation of such matters reassuring.  That my own unpleasing thoughts were hypocritical and that which deserved to be repented for and dealt with.

Verses 1-6
Matthew 7:1-2. Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.

Use your judgment, of course: the verse implies that you will judge in a right sense. But do not indulge the criticizing faculty upon others in censorious manner, or as if you were set in authority, and had a right to dispense judgment among your fellows. If you impute motives, and pretend to read hearts, others will do the same towards you. A hard and censorious behaviour is sure to provoke reprisals. Those around you will pick up the peck measure you have been using, and measure your corn with it. You do not object to men forming a fair opinion of your character, neither are you forbidden to do the same towards them, but as you would object to their sitting in judgment upon you, do not sit in judgment upon them. This is not the day of judgment, neither are we his Majesty’s judges, and therefore we may not anticipate the time appointed for the final assize, nor usurp the prerogatives of the Judge of all the earth. Surely, if I know myself aright, I need not send my judgment upon circuit to try other men, for I can give it full occupation in my own Court of Conscience to try the traitors within my own bosom.
Matthew 7:3-5. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cut out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.

The judging faculty is best employed at home. Our tendency is to spy out splinters in other men’s eyes, and not to see the beam in our own. Instead of beholding, with gratified gaze, the small fault of another, we should act reasonably if we penitently considered the greater fault of ourselves. It is the beam in our own eye which blinds us to our own wrong doing; but such blindness does not suffice to excuse us, since it evidently does not shut our eyes to the little error of our brother. Officiousness pretends to play the oculist; but in very truth it plays the fool. Fancy a man with a beam in his eye pretending to deal with so tender a part as the eye of another, and attempting to remove so tiny a thing as a mote or splinter! Is he not a hypocrite to pretend to be so concerned about other men’s eyes, and yet he never attends to his own? Jesus is gentle, but he calls that man a “hypocrite “ who fusses about small things in others and pays no attention to great matters at home in his own person. Our reformations must begin with ourselves, or they are not true, and do not spring from a right motive. Sin we may rebuke, but not if we indulge it. We may protest against evil, but not if we willfully practice it. The Pharisees were great at censuring, but slow at amending. Our Lord will not have his kingdom made up of hypocritical theorists, he calls for practical obedience to the rules of holiness. After we are ourselves sanctified, we are bound to be eyes to the blind, and correctors of unholy living; but not till then. Till we have personal piety, our preaching of godliness is sheer hypocrisy. May none of us provoke the Lord to say to us, “Thou hypocrite”!
Matthew 7:6. Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.

When men are evidently unable to perceive the purity of a great truth, do not set it before them. They are like mere dogs, and if you set holy things before them they will be provoked to “turn again and rend you”: holy things are not for the profane. “Without are dogs”: they must not be allowed to enter the holy place. When you are in the midst of the vicious, who are like “swine,” do not bring forth the precious mysteries of the faith, for they will despise them, and “trample them under their feet” in the mire.
You are not needlessly to provoke attack upon yourself, or upon the higher truths of the gospel. You are not to judge, but you are not to act without judgment. Count not men to be dogs or swine; but when they avow themselves to be such, or by their conduct act as if they were such, do not put occasions in their way for displaying their evil character. Saints are not to be simpletons; they are not to be judges, but, also, they are not to be fools. Great King, how much wisdom thy precepts require! I need thee, not only to open my mouth, but also at times to keep it shut.

Prayer to remember:  Great King, how much wisdom thy precepts require! I need thee, not only to open my mouth, but also at times to keep it shut.

 

Bottoms Feeders. Really???

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Swimming with the fishes…perhaps we should look beyond the definition and remember that sometimes bottom feeders are also the ones cleaning the tank.

Kindness and integrity are something that are rarely seen today.  I know the answer to the why question is sin.  It still astounds me however, that even as “cultured”, well rounded,  and advanced we are as a society and in our understanding of the world and one another we seem to lack kindness and integrity.  Lost somewhere between the  “all about me” and “life is good” mentality.

Last week I received an invitation from a former doctors office (of which I left 3 years ago).  The invitation was for  classes that were coming up  called “Eliminate Bottom Feeders”.  The minute I saw the title I was stunned.   Reading more of it I was flabbergasted at the “all about me” instruction I was invited to.  It read:

How miserable are you with the toxic people in your life?  ARE YOU READY TO BE A BETTER YOU in every life situation no matter who is in front of you?……..instructions to transform your life into one of simplicity and freedom……Best of all, you’ll learn the proven methods to attract positive, loving, and inspiring people into your world today.

I cannot write any more of what is on this flyer.  I’m frustrated just writing it.  Seriously?  The all about “me” worldly viewpoint once again protruding off the page.  Call me old fashioned, call me old or call me anything, however, this is down right what is wrong with our society and world as a whole.  We fight for ideology, we fight for justice (as long as it benefits us) and we fight for happiness (our own).  What ever happened to fighting for others for no good reason or for justice just because it’s morally the right thing to do.  Our culture seems to enjoy reality shows where people are glamified in their sins and any redeeming quality that does exist is overshadowed by laughter, criticism and hatefulness.

Is this what is wrong with our youth?   Is the next generation going to serve a purposeful place in society?  The questions should be considered.

There are several situations that have recently transpired in in the last week where I’ve had to look around and consider how to handle individuals that have taken the “me” attitude.  In dealing with those situations, with those individuals I have considered just turning them away because as the class title states, they were bottom feeders.  Anyone who knows me however, knows that doing that is not in my personality.  I have had to consider in each situation the attempt to overshadow the “me” concept with love, forgiveness and kindness.  I’ve prayed over my own heart and asked for guidance in my reactions.    In order to understand more clearly I  also  looked up “bottom feeder” and this is what it said:

bottom feeder –  leech, or in other words a total lack of responsibility to provide for oneself. Relies heavily upon friends, neighbors or anyone really for sustenance.

This of course allowed something to lay upon my heart with great pressure.   That if someone is a bottom feeder, and they are going to rely on others for sustenance, can’t we assist them by being a good example and steward in what it means to give back?  I mean, if they are going to rely on us, perhaps that is God’s way of blessing us with opportunity.  Perhaps, that is where He will use us in our service to Him.  Just maybe, that person is someone that needs to see kindness so that they too may go out one day and bless another with the same.   What if we as a society, stopped watching all of the “me” media and reality shows with our children and rather, began to outsource our energy to brighten someone else’s day with a kind gesture, a kind word, or a smile.  What about a meal for someone who is unable to cook, weeding someones garden because they aren’t able, taking in a neighbors garbage can when it blows in the street or even opening a door for someone who is struggling whether it be due to little children or a disability?  What about a prayer and an email to someone you know needs the encouragement?   Most of all what about forgiveness?  The posibilities are endless.  Remember, bottom feeder are also the ones that are cleaning the tanks.  They are of value and they could be your blessing.

Our culture also tries to make our children and one another believe that every relationship is a fairytale.  That every day you wake up you should be singing, laughing and never complaining.  I’m sorry to say that you can read self help books till the cow’s come home and you will never find that to be true.  If all that is taught is what is in the movies or on reality TV about what they call “true” happiness, one is surely to be disappointed.  In fact, maybe that’s why so many people are on antidepressant drugs.   Perhaps, rather than instructing one another on how to rid ourselves of people who drag us down, maybe we should begin sharing with one another how we have dealt with struggles in our own lives. You never know, it just may assist in the mind set of someone who has a lack of coping skills.   Life is full of challenges and we cannot escape them, we need to learn to cope with them.

John 16:33English Standard Version (ESV)

33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

Now, don’t misunderstand what I’m saying.  There are boundaries to everything, and there are priorities.  We should not be forsaking our families attention for that of others.  We do not put our families on hold so that we can attempt to “save the world”.  However, we should be able to balance our families and others who maybe don’t know what it means to not be selfish.  Even the example of serving our families can be seen by others.   When I was in College, one of our classes required us to read a book called, Give A Man A Fish and He Will Eat For A Day, Teach A Man To Fish and He Will Eat For A LifeTime.   A concept we have long forgotten.

As I ponder this week how I may assist in showing that which I know to be good stewardship to all those I encounter, I consider also what it means to be content.  Content with this life on this earth.  Contentment with illness, with family, with friends, with volunteering my time and with contentment in all things.  I hope that you too will consider where our society is today and the culture that is vastly becoming all of our reality.  How can we play a part in transforming just one person from being a “me” thinking individual to being a “difference maker”.

(I personally would like to have my own class…6 weeks in teaching others how to go beyond themselves in behavior and in thought.)  ha ha ha

ESV — 1 Timothy 6:1-10
6  Let all who are under a yoke as bondservants1 regard their own masters as worthy of all honor, so that the name of God and the teaching may not be reviled. 2 Those who have believing masters must not be disrespectful on the ground that they are brothers; rather they must serve all the better since those who benefit by their good service are believers and beloved.

False Teachers and True Contentment

Teach and urge these things. 3 If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound 2 words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, 4 he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, 5 and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain. 6 But godliness with contentment is great gain, 7 for we brought nothing into the world, and3 we cannot take anything out of the world. 8 But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. 9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.

Seeking Life or Death ?

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Over the past year and a half, I’ve used my blog as a tool to express my thoughts, my recipes, my frustrations etc.  It was an avenue to express myself and to have communication with others when I otherwise felt alone and secluded.   I have met many other wonderful bloggers who have since become my friends.  Two of those delightful friends had recently inquired about my blogging as it seems I have nearly fallen off the “grid”.  My posts have become less in frequency and not quite  full of “heart”.  My excuse, if there is one,  is that I have been pondering a great amount lately.  Much of which I have chosen to keep unwaveringly close to the breast so to speak.  I have not felt inspired, nor have I felt that I had anything worth contributing.  That is until today….

Much of what has been on my mind has been about parenting, being a wife, a daughter and a friend and being a woman of God.  Am I doing a good job?  Am I standing up for what we as a Christian family believe in?  Am I acting as a worthy steward and servant that  gives glory to our Father?  Am I all that I need to be?  As I ponder all of these questions and consider how to put into words my thoughts, I glanced up at my husbands book shelf and see a book called Decisions, Decisions by Dave Swavely.  That’s it!  For the past few months I have been considering not all of the above, but “decisions”.    Decisions based on every area of my life and in every aspect of every relationship I have.  Decisions that always have an outcome and a consequence.  Decisions that affect everything and anyone in the path of their being made.  That being said, my mind swirled with inspiration and I feel like I have something to contribute.

I have always told my children two things, delivery will get you every time and make sure that whatever you do in life you are an upright moral human being serving God first and doing the best you can at whatever it is you do.  Doing that will ensure your success in a world that has become immune to insanity, adultery, murder, idol worship, acceptance, and sin.  Knowing what it says in 1 John 2:15-17  Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. 17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

As I look around at my own personal relationships, whether it be with my children, my spouse, my parents, friends and neighbors, I realize that even the smallest decision I make in those relationships can have an impact in the future.  That impact can either play out in a positive way or in a negative way.  It all depends upon how and I why I make certain decisions to begin with.  Was I making the decision based on self gratification?  Was I making the decision based on guilt?  Was I making a decision on resentment or out of anger?  Was I making a decision that was for someone else?  And finally, what was it that provoked a decision to be made and how did I come to that decision?  What avenue did I seek out in making that decision?  Did I consult with others?  Did I have a knee jerk reaction and make a decision based on an incident without knowing all the facts?  Did I take it to the One that called me out of this world to serve?  Did I pray about it and seek out His counsel?  So many things to consider when making a decision.  I wonder how many people actually consider their decision making and the outcomes that may follow based on their reasoning for their decisions.

For me, I ponder my own decisions in this life and to a  fault I have also pondered decisions that others have made for the themselves.  That is what troubles my inner being and something that I am delighted to report I have been praying over.  Decisions that seem so small can have a large impact in the end, with some very disturbing consequences.   As I began reading the aforementioned  book above, the author wrote If you are a believer in Christ, the resulting effects in your life should not be your only motivation, or even your primary one, to make good decisions.  Taking 2 Corinthians 5:6-10 into account about the judgment that holds us accountable in decisions we make.  So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, 7 for we walk by faith, not by sight. 8 Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9 So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.  The apostle Paul does not only speak to the Corinthians, he speaks also to us.  He reminds us that our salvation came at a price and that although we are saved by grace, we are also judged according to our behavior and the decisions we make.  A consideration that worldly viewpoints overlook.  Although, we as Christians understand that God has not revealed His truth to those who are held captive to their blindness.  To no fault of their own, their decisions that are decapitating to self are inevitable.

What about a Christian who claims himself saved and is trying to follow God?  Sometimes it is the shame of our churches and leadership that they are not guiding their flocks in the truth of the gospel.  With all of the “extras” to get numbers in the door, they fail to teach the word as it is written.  Adding in man made “traditions” and “additions” to aspire to others that “Christ loves everyone”.   I have been one of those Christians.  I have walked in those shoes.  I have through the grace of God been pulled out of heresy and been shown that only God’s Word stands true.  The Bible is more than just a book to read on Sunday, it is the creators instruction book to an everlasting life.  Not to be changed to suit a sermon, nor added to or taken away to fulfill numbers.  It is a way of life that needs to be taken seriously.

It is with great hope and prayer that  if you have chosen to read to the end, that you will consider, as I have,  all of the decisions you make in your life.  That you will consider prayer first, asking God for guidance and trusting in Him to have a better plan than the one you may think you need.  Keeping with the Spirit, seeking out what scripture says on the matter and realizing the truth behind decision making.  Asking the why and taking into consideration how.

Reflection and Progression

 

Picture taken from Omnibus III
Picture taken from Omnibus III

Romans 8:25
But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. 

Sitting in a chair facing my friend, who sits reclined back comfortably in her recliner we discuss our new book and what a wonderful author John Bunyan is.  His incredible allegory of the walk of a Christian in Pilgrims Progress. We usually meet once a week at her home (she is completely home bound and unable to do anything for herself anymore) and read a chapter or two of a book.  This week, we began a new book and because we both were enjoying it so much, decided to throw in a second day.  Our visits over the last 6 months have been pretty much the same, we visit first, her husband sweetly confirms she is comfortable and as he exits to his “man cave” office, she and I share a little more of our week and I begin to read.

As we began our new book, we were thrown a curve ball.  I began reading and when I finished page 16, I began reading what I thought was page 17 only to realize that the story didn’t make any sense at all.  I looked up to see that the page after 16 was actually page 23. Now, keep in mind that I cannot read on my own without having to read one page several times due to my Lymes and my friend cannot read at all and depending upon the day may have issues with processing information due to her corticobasil degeneration.  That being said, you can just imagine my dismay to find that in a neatly hardbound book there were no pages ripped out and yet pages 17-22 were missing.  We both sat there laughing not quite sure what to do.  We quickly realized that our time together that day may be cut short by a error in the binding of the book.

Upon further investigation, I found the rest of the pages… 10 pages further into the book.  So, as if it isn’t funny enough that we are reading Pilgrims Progress together, both of us having cognitive issues and both of us being more tired in the afternoon, I now was challenged with reading from right to left rather than left to right and my friend had to endure me stopping at critical parts of the story just to find my place.  Honestly, I kept thinking it would have made for a great home video recording.

Well, as it is with my memory these days, I completely forgot this when I went over to read to her the second day.  So of course, I began reading where I left off and of course ended up reading some of what we had already read earlier in the week amongst the new pages of the story.  Once again, we had to laugh and I had to regroup and figure out where my next pages were.  Were they 10 pages forward or 2 pages back.

Having Lyme makes life so interesting!  Seriously, I can relate to the frustration that was felt in the movie Still Alice… I am physically so much better than last year that I am not complaining at all.  Last year at this time I could not walk up a flight of steps without nearly passing out and I could not do anything for myself except maybe a shower, and that was not daily as I just didn’t have the energy for it.  I was in constant pain, my exhaustion was unexplainable and my energy level was at best good for only about an hour.  By mid afternoon my brain was so foggy that I could not process information, I was unable to drive as I forgot where I was going and when I drove I completely blanked out and couldn’t remember I had driven at all.  To go anywhere that needed walking I had to use a wheelchair.

After 10 months I had serious doubts I’d recover from this illness. You can imagine my my excitement when I found the doctor and protocol I had been looking for since being first diagnosed.  So in early May, my Integrative doctor agreed to let me try the protocol of the other doctor I found and by June I was going to the Highland games with the family and the wheelchair stayed in the garage.  I’m not saying it didn’t need to be brought out from time to time, but overall I was seeing improvements.  By July I was able to make an 8 hour drive to our cottage alone with my daughter and by September I was driving to CA with the kids.  The pain subsided within that first month and slowly my energy level began to increase.  The brain fog has also improved, unless of course I am extremely tired and have not slept well.  Learning my limitations, keeping track of my symptoms and making adjustments with my meds has been such a help.  Having two doctors who look beyond, listen to me with all ears and keep an open mind to the research I also do has been a blessing.

Your likely wondering why I went from reading Pilgrims Progress to my health.  Well, as we read on Thursday, I couldn’t help but to think about the characters in the story, what they stood for and how even though the book was first published in 1678, the allegory is so powerful for us today.  No wonder it is the second most widely published book in world to this day, second only to the Bible.  Although I enjoyed the book a few years ago when the kids and I read it together and studied it, I think after the last year I am enjoying it even more.

On Thursday we read about Christian meeting the Interpreter and what he finds in the Palace prior to going any further on his journey.  Within the Palace there are a number of rooms.  One of the rooms was rather small and introduced were two children, Passion and Patience.  The characteristics of the two were such:

Passion was seen as being discontent; wanting of all things now, and at that moment Patience was quiet; willing to wait for that which is yet to come

In the story, the Interpreter explains:   “These two lads are Figures; Passion of the men of this World, and Patience of the men of That which is to come:  For as here thou seest, Passion will have all now, this year; that is to say, in this world;  so are the men of this world:  they must have all their good things now, they cannot stay till next year, that is, until the next World, for their portion of good.  That proverb, A Bird in the Hand is worth two in the Bush, is of more authority with them, than are all the Divine testimonies of the Good of the World to come.  But as thou sawest, that he had quickly lavished all away, and had presently left him nothing but rags; so will it be with all such men at the End of this world.  

Christian replies:  Now I see that Patience has the best Wisdom, and that upon many accounts.  1.  Because he stays  for the best things.  2.  And also because he will have the Glory of his, when the other has nothing but rags.

Interpreter:  Nay, you may add another, to wit, the Glory of the next World will never wear out; but these are suddenly gone.  Therefore Passion had not so much reason to laugh at Patience, because he had his good things first, as Patience will have to laugh at Passion, because he had his best things last; for first must give place to last, because last must have its time to come; but last gives place to nothing; for there is not another to succeed:  He therefore that hath his portion first, must needs have a Time to spend it; but he that has his portion last, must have it lastingly:  Therefore it is said of Dives, In thy Lifetime thou receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted, and thou are tormented.

Christian:  Then I perceive it is not best to covet things that are now, but to wait for things to come.  

And in conclusion, I want to end with the beginning of what Interpreter has to say next:  “You say truth:  For the things that are seen are Temporal; but the things that are not seen are Eternal:  

I have to admit that last year when I was diagnosed, I wanted my body to heal and for my life to go back as it used to be.  I wanted to go back to being the super mom who could get up in the morning, make breakfast, school the kids, drive them around town for their activities, pull weeds out of the garden, help my friends paint their houses, stop for groceries and spend long hours in the kitchen preparing dinners for my family, all in one day.  I wanted to be able to plan out events for the homeschool community or prepare classes as I once had in our co-op classes.  I wanted to be organized without losing things.  I wanted healing at that moment.  I tried to be patient, and I even prayed that the Lord use my illness for His good will.  Yet internally, my mind wanted desperately to have my life back.

In reading the above exchange between Christian and Interpreter, I was seeing myself as being like that of Passion.  Although my heart longs to be more like Patience, I know that my human nature as a sinner is more like that of Passion.  As the months drew on and  now another year, I am learning more and more the importance of the lessons of Patience.  The story has resonated in my mind ever since our reading on Thursday and I know it’s through the Providence of God that He continues to teach this weary being of lessons He needs for me to learn, sanctifying me so that perfection may still yet be seen.

If I had received the blessing of quick healing, would I have followed the leading of my heart to go see my friend who was already home bound?  Would I have understood what it was like for those who have no or limited social interaction with others?  Would I be reading Pilgrims Progress with a friend who needs to be reminded of the eternal blessings yet to come?  Would I have understood that I truly had sisters that took time out of their days to help me cope in my own loneliness?

Honestly, I think not.  If God had allowed me to follow my own way, just as Passion, then I am quite certain my short lived illness would have been placed in a box on a shelf where dust would settle only to be forgotten.  I would have gone on with my days wanting to be something more and someone more than I am meant to be.  I would have likely filled my days with things that have no real meaning other than for self.  My friend would still be sitting in her recliner, yet I would have missed the blessings of seeing her smile, her sense of humor with her husband and our wonderful discussions that come out of our readings.  I would have missed an opportunity to serve another who was and is desperate for her own healing and for understanding as to why her life has taken the turn it has.

As I continue to read through Pilgrims Progress I look forward to seeing what the Lord once again has to show me.  I hope that as you read this post, you too may consider reading along with us.  I promise, you will not be disappointed.

Luke 8:15
As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.

 

The Valley of Vision

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A few years ago I was blessed with spending a great deal of time with a friend who was losing her husband to an illness that he had battled for a number of years.  Through out our time together I had thought that I was being used to help her get through her difficult time, however, over the years I have realized that I was the one that was blessed and she unknowingly helped prepare me for my own future heartache.  Through those lengthy talks, prayers, and cherished moments together I learned and am able to use today the wisdom of waiting on the Lord and how to live with loss.

I thought I knew what it meant to wait upon the Lord, however, nothing in my past has prepared me for what our family has been dealing with more recently.  In the last several years I have had to accept loss of family, loss of friends, loss of health and currently loss that comes with economic changes.  Loss comes in all shapes and sizes and in all sorts of ways.  Some are permanent and some are temporary.  Looking through the loss and looking for the clearing on the other side of the fog can be difficult if you are not given the eyes to see it through.  Waiting upon the Lord gives clarity.

I have found that staying in prayer and surrounding myself with others of like mindedness in faith always carry me through.  The Lord continues to peel back the layers of scales that grow upon my eyes.  Each layer giving me new perspective and helping me to grow closer to Him.

My friend, during our time together, introduced me to a wonderful book that I quite often find solace in.  As my morning in worship came to a close, I learned of a situation which I have no control over and I felt lost.  I so wanted to be “in the know” and a part of a solution for a loved one that I lost sight of my own boundaries.  Caring with only your heart and not your head will stretch any boundary and although some of us have hearts full of  love for others, it’s the head that needs to remind self of the purpose.  If I was wanted, I would have been “in the know”, if I was needed then I would have been called.  Everyone makes decisions that are best for them and I need to respect that.  My heart may be breaking and my mind may feel the sorrow, however this was one more example of how the valley is what feeds the soul, not the mountain.  I’ve said it for years in numerous bible studies that as children of a Holy God, we are not fed at the top of the mountain, (where we typically seek to find Him) we are fed in the valley’s (where we always hear Him).  So, in this little book sweetly and ironically called The Valley of Vision I once again find clarity in my valley and once again I thank my friend for the blessing of a little book of wisdom.

The Valley of Vision

LORD, HIGH AND HOLY, MEEK AND LOWLY,                                                                   Thou has brought me to the valley of vision,                                                                                where I live in the depths but see thee in the heights;                                                         hemmed in by mountains of sin I behold thy glory.

Let me learn by paradox that the way down is the way up,                                                     that to be low is to be high,                                                                                                         that the broken heart is the healed heart,                                                                                   that the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit,                                                                          that the repenting soul is the victorious soul,                                                                           that to have nothing is to possess all,                                                                                          that to bear the cross is to wear the crown,                                                                               that to give is to receive,                                                                                                              that the valley is the place of vision.

Lord, in the daytime stars can be seen from deepest wells,                                                      and the deeper the wells the brighter thy stars shine;                                

Let me find thy light in my darkness,                                                                                         thy life in my death,                                                                                                                       thy joy in my sorrow,                                                                                                                     thy grace in my sin,                                                                                                                         thy riches in my poverty                                                                                                                thy glory in my valley.

Friends, in your valley, I pray that you not just seek but that you hear the Word of God that feeds your soul.  That you find solace in your times of sorrow and strength in times of weakness.  On this Sunday, I pray for continued wisdom and for accountability when it comes to my own sinfulness.