Monday, October 27, 2008

Rejection (Part 3)

This is the final blog in the trilogy about the subject of rejection. And, happily, this is also the best of the three because this blog talks about the healing that we can receive after rejection. We don’t have to carry the pain forever!!

Beth Moore cites 1 Peter 2:4-10 and how we who are rejected by men are CHOSEN by God. Just as Jesus was rejected and killed by HIS OWN CREATION, we too can expect to be rejected by our own brothers and sisters. And, just as Beth pointed out, when we are rejected, they are rejecting HIM more than they are US. HE lives IN us (Luke 6:22, Luke 10:16). It’s because of this fact that I have learned not to take rejection personally anymore. I’ve realized (specifically within the last year) that it is GOD they are TRULY offending and rejecting (though, of course, I am saddened and upset when people reject my Savior). God will have His say about the ones who reject Him. I like how Beth brought up 1 Samuel 8:7 where God says: “…Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king.” Therefore, I won’t get all worked up about someone’s opinions, judgments, condemnation, or rejection of me; because it‘s truly not about “me.” Any time I start to forget, the Holy Spirit reminds and assures me, “It’s not about you, Melissa.” Praise God for that!! It’s all about HIM!

Furthermore, Beth described both the sovereignty and supremacy of God. He is Lord of all things and all situations. He both permits and restrains what He wills, and it’s ALL for our good and because He loves us!! In fact, sometimes, rejection is a blessing! She asked if any of us could look back at a time where we were rejected and realize, now, that it was the best thing that could have happened. She said it likely didn’t feel good at the time, and we hated it more than anything, but it was for our benefit. Case and point with an old boyfriend or girlfriend. We may have thought that they were right for us, but looking back, we see just how wrong that relationship was for us! She said that sometimes, God allows that door to slam shut in our face for our own good!! I can’t count the number of times that God shut doors for me and spared me so much anguish! I didn’t see it at the time, but I see it NOW as I look back! One such example was when Mitch and I were dead set on purchasing a certain house. It had a big yard and Mitch’s “dream garage” (what is it with men and garages?! LOL). Everything was great on the outside, but the inside was small and had a few problems; including a bit of water in the basement. However, we REALLY wanted the house. We made one or two offers, and the sellers wouldn’t accept them; we were REJECTED! It was frustrating, but later on, we found the house that we live in now, and it was clearly better that the other house (and our offer was ACCEPTED)!! It may not be the greatest on the outside, but it’s WONDERFUL on the inside (and the insides are what count most anyways - Matthew 23:25-26). Also, we found out later that the house we wanted so badly was filled with toxic mold!! PRAISE YOU JESUS FOR SHUTTING THAT DOOR!!!!

There are many times we don’t understand the “doors” in our lives. Some are open and some are closed. And, other times, doors that were once open become shut (and vice versa). Beth said sometimes, you have rejection on one hand so you can have reconciliation on the other. Perhaps the rejection of a friend, spouse, relative, etc. opens the door for reconciliation between you and another person to reconcile who previously kept their distance because of the relationship you had with the one who rejected you. The scenarios are endless, but there is a purpose for all of them!

Speaking of reconciliation, that was the subject of discussion after we watched the Beth Moore video. The church counselor emphasized that reconciliation isn’t always necessary or wise in all situations. There are cases in which relationships are so toxic and unhealthy that reconciliation should not be made (such as in cases of abuse - whatever form that may take; physical, sexual, mental, emotional, verbal, etc.). Also, it is wiser to peaceably part ways if the relationship in question is causing division, strife, dissension, quarrels, etc. (Proverbs 15:18, Proverbs 22:24, Romans 16:17-18, 2 Timothy 2:23, Titus 3:10). We are to make every effort to live at peace with each other (Romans 12:18) and sometimes, peace can only occur if ties are broken (whether temporarily or permanently as the Spirit leads). One must learn to let go of control and let God handle those who have a hard time getting along with others and cannot refrain from stirring up drama and conflict. No one can control or change another person, and it’s important to know when to step aside and let the Holy Spirit take over so the person can learn, grow, and experience change and healing in their heart (something only God can do and we got to know when to stop interfering and hindering that process and be obedient in stepping aside). Yes, it’s difficult (especially if it’s a family member or someone you are really close to) but REAL Agape love that comes from the Holy Spirit will enable you to do what’s right; even when it’s difficult and painful.

Needless to say, of course, there SHOULD be forgiveness regardless if you’re reconciled or not (for the sake of your own heart more than anything). Unforgiveness is poisonous and will imprison and enslave you. There’s no peace and joy in that, and it only serves as a gateway to other fruits of the sinful nature like bitterness, anger, hatred, etc. Those fruits are the perfect example of the negative effects of rejection, if undealt with, and how that “vacancy” (as mentioned in the previous blog) can cause us to invite unpleasant elements into our lives that should never be welcomed! Or, maybe even worse, we invite in what would ordinarily be a good thing only to become too dependent on the fulfillment that we THINK we’ll get from it (more food, money, clothes, a new job, new friends, new love interest, new baby, etc.). Those things are “good” but they don’t address the heart of the issue - only Jesus can heal, fill, and fulfill the void(s) in your heart! I should know, every one of those “good things” served as a solution to my “vacancy” at some point or another in my life - but did NOT satisfy beyond a temporary high. Having too much of a “good thing” will be your downfall if it becomes an idol and is elevated above God! God doesn’t like the competition (Exodus 20:5). Hopefully, you won’t have to have a humbling and painful wake-up call in some way or another in order to realize that. God may allow you to lose that which you hold dear in order to help you re-adjust your focus (case and point, the current economy crisis. Be careful who/what you put your hope in! We‘ll reap what we sow, America!!!).

One final note that Beth Moore concluded with was something that really touched my heart. It was the fact that in 1 Corinthians 13:8, Paul assures us that “love never fails.” Isn’t that glorious?! Beth said that the Greek transliteration for that is ekpipto which means “to drop away,…to fall (away, off).” In other words, she said, it doesn’t drop to the ground. One way or another, the “fruit” (love) you offer and invest in people is accepted. It’s not all for nothing!! If they reject it, God catches that “fruit” before it hits the ground. HE accepts it! GOD is love, and Isaiah 55:11 tells us that His Word won’t return to Him void and empty!

I pray that these words have blessed you as much as it has blessed me! I am overjoyed at knowing that the love of Christ that I share with people NEVER falls to the ground! My efforts are never wasted; even if they aren’t accepted by the recipient. Also, Beth said that if we didn’t know the pain of rejection, we wouldn’t know the joy of acceptance! If the “failed” love of others had never failed at all, how would we appreciate the UNFAILING LOVE of God? Those are some powerful thoughts! I pray that they will be as precious to you as they are to me!! Cling to the fact that there is ONE who never fails! I may fail you, and others may fail you (though it surely is never my intent….but be prepared! I am human and I do make mistakes!) but God never will! Thank goodness!!

Grace and peace to all of you! I pray that all of us may rejoice in the joy of acceptance rather than the rejections of our past. Here’s to hoping that we all have our “rejection tinted sunglasses” off and that we will be blessed with healing, joy, forgiveness, and peace!! God bless you all!!

Rejection (Part 2)

In the previous blog, “word pictures of rejection” was explored. Now, it’s time to look at the “wounds of rejection” in connection with the definitions of rejection we just learned about.

Beth Moore made several different points in this section. Point number one is that “Rejection can wound deeper and last longer than hosts of other injuries.” She even went as far to say that we translate rejection more than we do acceptance. Psalm 27:10 says, “Though my father and mother forsake me, the LORD will receive me.” Yet, we so often miss the promise of that verse because we are so focused on our pain. We overlook the comfort and cling to our misery; we just can’t let go! We focus on the rejection of our parents, siblings, friends, spouse, etc. more than we do God’s enduring guarantee of unfailing love and acceptance from Him!

In illustrating the preceding concept, Beth put on a pair of old-fashioned sunglasses that were her grandmother’s. She says she often puts them on and just looks in the mirror (and it looked rather humorous! LOL). She said looking through the tint of those ridiculous looking glasses is like looking at the world through the tint of rejection. We won’t take off those ridiculous glasses and instead, everything is colored and tainted by those lenses of pain. Everyone else pays for the offenses that OTHERS cause us. We view everyone through that filter and punish them for the mistakes others made in our lives. Beth encouraged us all to take our glasses off! It’s time to see clearly!

The next point she made was: “Rejection tempts us to invite things into our lives we might never have welcomed.” She said it’s that neon “vacancy” sign inviting things in that we never dreamed that we would! Trauma cripples us and leaves us vulnerable. The longer we wallow in our pain and refuse treatment for our recovery, the more prone we are to further infection!

The third point she made is much like last one: “Rejection can empower us to act in ways we never dreamed of behaving.” How many times has our own pain caused us to lash out irrationally towards someone that didn’t cause our original pain to begin with? Or, maybe we have started to act and be a totally different person than what we were before in order to cope with our pain. Maybe we have turned to some sort of addiction, lifestyle, or person in order to cope. Beth cited an example of someone marrying someone they barely knew just to get back at the prior person that rejected them. She said, “Yeah, I sure showed them!” Who’s REALLY being punished, though? One’s own hasty decisions most often turns out to be YOUR punishment, not theirs! Revenge isn’t so sweet!

The last point she made was: “Rejection claims two erroneous repairs: To recover what rejected it“ and/or “To reject what rejected it.” I’m sure we have all been on both the giving and receiving ends of both of these scenarios! Beth said that in the first case, we are trying desperately to hold onto what rejected us. Sometimes, it’s a good thing to reconcile and other times, it’s a blessing in the case of situations where the relationship is toxic. Either way, however, that kind of desperate dependency isn’t healthy. A person’s worth isn’t dependent on whether or not they are approved and accepted by what rejected them. No one controls your worth, just as you can’t control theirs!

The second claim of rejection (rejecting what rejected you) is just as harmful if you are coming from that place of control. One example I can think of is when someone breaks up with their boyfriend or girlfriend. Then, after they change their mind, they attempt to get back together. The person that was first rejected then reconciles just long enough to reject them back. Beth Moore said it’s the “I’ll reject you before you can reject me” mentality - and it’s a person’s way of trying to have the “last word.”

If you’re like me, every single rejection scenario has probably played out in your life. One person in our group brought up grade school. There is a LOT of rejection that goes on in our school years! Personally, I felt rejected a LOT! I wasn’t in the “popular” crowds. So, I know how it felt to be “left out” and I tried to be inclusive to others (especially if they were the “new kid” at school). Though, I have had my moments where I was just as bad as the other kids and I sat by and said nothing, or laughed along with people when they picked on the kids that weren’t accepted. I’m sure I’m not alone in that. We’ve all been rejecters and rejectees; both past and present (and most likely in the future). It’s the kind of fallen world we live in.

Rejection is a sad part of life. Though, there is redemption in rejection!! The ray of light to this subject is in the next blog!! Grace and peace to all of you!!

Rejection (Part 1)

These past few weeks, I have been attending the “Living Beyond Yourself” Beth Moore study group. This is the first time I have ever read/watched anything of Beth Moore’s, and I must say, I am getting so much out of it!! This is a great study on the fruit of the Spirit and so much more!! I wish I could blog everything that we have been learning, but there is SO MUCH to it! I highly recommend this to everyone! If you have a chance to do this study, DO IT! It’s SO WORTH IT!

One thing in particular that I wanted to share is what we learned last week. In the video we watched, Beth Moore talked about this nasty three-syllable word that none of us like: rejection. It’s interesting what images and feelings come to mind when we hear that word isn’t it? When I heard it, I thought “Oh boy, I don’t want to sit here and listen to her describe it! I’ve had enough already!” However, I stayed, listened, and took it all in. I’m glad I did, because it really helped me; and I felt the nudge to blog it because I know that everyone can relate to this! So, if you have been rejected (and we ALL have!) keep reading! As Beth Moore said, “there is life after rejection”!

Since she covered so much in the video, I will break it up into the three parts she did and put it into three different blogs. This first part is “Word Pictures Of Rejection”. Part two is “Wounds Of Rejection”. And finally, part three is “Divine Healing”. Here are my notes from part one:

Beth Moore said that “all we need to create an environment for rejection is relationship.” I think the majority of us have figured that out! You can’t very well be rejected unless you connect with someone first. This is why some avoid socialization and relationships altogether. We fear eventual rejection and all the emotions that come with it. Eventually, we realize that the closer we get to a person, the greater the potential there is for them to hurt us if something should ever go wrong in the relationship. So, naturally, we sometimes build walls to protect ourselves. It’s hard to face the certainty that in this life, we WILL experience rejection. Even Jesus’ disciples betrayed and rejected Him (and many still reject Him today!). If this happens to our own Savior, then what would make us exempt?

Beth Moore defined rejection in several different verses. In Mark 8:31, Jesus talked about how He was going to be rejected by many, killed, and then after three days be resurrected. Beth said: “The Greek transliteration for rejected (apodokimazo) means to reject as the result of examination and testing of one’s qualifications for an office. Later, it came to mean to put out of office or place, to reject, disapprove, refuse.” In other words, this meaning of rejection boils down to “I’ve put you to the test and you don’t measure up.” Who among us has failed someone’s “measure up” test? Everyone one of us has been judged, condemned, and rejected by SOMEONE at some point in our lives. We’ve all been on both sides of the spectrum too. We have all been judged as well as the judges. We’ve all set expectations for ourselves and other people. We’ve failed others, and others have failed us. It’s painful; both on the giving and receiving ends.

Another definition of rejection comes from the scripture in Isaiah 53:3 which reads: “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.” Beth said: “Strong’s definition of the Hebrew for rejected (chadel) adds the meaning: vacant.” Vacant. That’s another ugly word isn’t it? Vacancy equals “emptiness” and who likes the presence of emptiness? Lingering voids nag at us. Unsatisfied longings are a “stronghold waiting to happen.” Sadly, I’m sure we can all think of an example of that! What kinds of things have we allowed into our “vacancies”; to fill us as a result of the void that rejection left?

Lastly, Beth gives us Galatians 4:14 in which Paul says: “And my temptation which was in my flesh ye despised not, nor rejected; but received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus.” Beth said the Greek transliteration here is ekptuo Ek meaning “out” and Ptuo meaning “to spit.” (She said Ptuo is the sound your mouth makes when you spit!). So, rejection is “spitting out” something or someone. Have you ever been “spit out” (or been the spitter?). Not pretty is it?

Now that we have established that rejection is being put out, spit out, and left vacant, we can now delve into part two which deals with the “Wounds Of Rejection.” We all have wounds; we’ve all been hurt (and have hurt others). However, there is hope and healing!! We needn’t bear the weight of rejection for our whole lives! If you want to know how to let go and move on, read parts two and three!! Grace and peace to you!!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Who Will Catch You When You Fall?

Today, the series on tough questions continued as Chad demonstrated how to answer the question of “faith.” How can we just “have faith”? How do we believe?

Faith, though a small one syllable word, often seem big and intimidating to a lot of people. However, if you really break it down, faith really is a simple thing. And, ALL of us have faith!! The only difference from one person’s faith to the next is who/what the object of faith is. We are all able to believe. “Faith” is just another way of saying “trust”.

For those that question the mere existence of God, Chad illustrated some scientific examples of God’s handiwork in order to present the evidence of God. There are many that “believe” in the THEORY of evolution (and boy does that EVER take a LOT of faith to believe that all you see here was caused by a “big bang” and poof, something out of nothing was made!). As Chad pointed out, evolution is ever “evolving” itself because those that promote it keep changing it to fit their ideas any time they run into a snag in the theory. Evolution has been proven a farce many times, but still, they cling on to false ideas because of their pride and stubborn refusal to acknowledge that all the complexities of everything around us was carefully and intricately designed by a designer! NOTHING just “happens.” ANYTHING so complex HAS TO have a designer!! Think about the very computer in which you are viewing this blog. Did this computer just “happen” and “evolve” into the complex piece of machinery that it is now? No, of course not!! All of its tiny little microchips, wiring, and programming had to be configured by someone who designed it. My friends, if even a computer has a designer, than how much MORE designing does a human being (or anything else in this vast universe) have to have?! How much MORE complex are we than a computer?!!!

Chad told us about all the little “machines” we have working in our bodies. And, all those machines are within machines, and within machines!!! They just keep getting smaller and smaller!! Inside the tiniest one is LOTS more machines, and in THOSE machines are MORE machines!! ALL of which work together to keep us running!! We are so infinitely complex!! There is NO WAY we could have just “happened” along one day!! There is no randomness!

Evidence of God is all around us. Paul describes in Romans 1:18-20 that we can understand God by seeing all this evidence around us. We have no excuse not to believe!! Even though the world may try to dismiss the evidence, how can we possibly argue with it? As technology advances, we see more and more just how intricate and amazingly complex we are; and we STILL don’t know all there is to know about the workings of our own bodies! However, God does!! He fashioned us!! He knit us together in our mothers’ wombs (Psalm 139:13-15). All those endless complexities and inner workings were configured and made by Him.

When considering these things, does it make it easier to believe? For me, it always leaves me in awe, and it strengthens my belief in my object of choice: Jesus. I keep in mind how He said that we are to be humble like little children. For them, faith is easiest because they are open and receptive. They soak up all they learn and all they are told, and they believe so easily! That is how we need to be when we ponder the things of God. We need to take it in and drink it up! We need to look at all the wonders He created and remember that everything has His fingerprints all over it! Speaking of fingerprints, that’s yet one more things that proves His existence. There is no cookie-cutter person; we are all UNIQUE - right down to our fingerprints!

So, do you want to know Your Creator? Will HE be your object of faith? Or, will you put your hope and trust in persons or things that cannot catch you when you fall? Chad showed us a video of him catching his little boy as he jumped into his arms. In order for him to take that leap, he had to trust that his father would catch him. In that same way, God is there to catch us. Money can’t catch you (just look at the economy!). “Stuff” can’t catch you. Even PEOPLE can’t catch you (because all people are subject to their own falls and need catching too!). There is only ONE that is always prepared to catch you; who NEVER fails or falls Himself. He is steady, unchanging, and strong!! Those everlasting arms will never let you down! He will always lift you up! Fall on Him! Know Him! Have FAITH in Him!! Grace and peace to all of you!! Amen!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Hell? NO!

Last Sunday, the “Sink Clips” series on tough questions continued as Craig talked about Hell. If you want to hear the message for yourself, you can go to the church website: www.missionoflife.com

Many common questions regarding Hell were addressed; including why there is a Hell and why God would “send” us to Hell. Well, first of all, Hell was not created for US and God does NOT “send” us there! Hell was created for Satan and his demons (Matthew 25:41). We were never intended to spend our eternity there. The only reason that some of us do is because we CHOOSE to!

I know that many will say that no one “chooses” to. After all, if Hell is so terrible (and eternally permanent!) why would ANYONE “choose” it? Well, if we are going to address this issue, we have to understand the concept of free-will. God created us with a free-will because He didn’t want to force a relationship with us. Regardless of if we love Him or not, He’s always going to love us and want to be with us. However, He’s not going to “make us” choose to be with Him. Either you want to be with Him or you don’t. And, you can’t sit on the fence. Not to decide IS to decide!!! To illustrate this example, think about any given relationship you have had in your life. In order to HAVE a relationship with that person, you had to CHOOSE to do so. No one “made” you engage in a relationship with that person - and if they tried, that likely caused problems. No one wants to be forced to be with someone that they don’t want to be with. That causes resistance and rebellion as well as a lack of genuine reciprocal feelings. The relationship is no good if it’s “robotic.” That’s why God gave us the ability to choose because God is love and wants us to choose to be with Him out of genuine love and desire for Him like He has for us. He doesn’t want a bunch of “robots” who are forced to be with Him.

It’s still amazing to me that He would be so remarkable to give us the choice; knowing full well that we would rebel and many of us would break His heart by saying “no” to Him. As soon as Adam sinned, that fellowship with God was compromised and broken. Because God is perfect, just, and holy, sin and injustice cannot be in His presence. The only way that we can stand before Him and have fellowship with Him is through Jesus Christ. He is the only spotless and blameless man, and the only one that could have paid the penalty for our sins so that we have that covering; that filter of grace that exempts us from the wrath and judgment of God. All we have to do is believe and accept it. If we don’t, we have no redemption and therefore, we have to pay for our sins ourselves because justice demands that sin be paid for. God cannot act against His own nature. He simply cannot accept anyone that hasn’t accepted Jesus’ payment for our sins. Jesus is the ONLY way. There is no back door, and there is no way we can “earn” our way in or cover our own sin debt. It’s insurmountable! God can’t look at us and say, “Ok. You weren’t that bad. I think I can let you squeak by.” Sin is all the same to Him. We may judge sin and offenses as more or less than another, but sin is sin and we are ALL guilty of it! ALL SIN equals separation from God and the only way to restore fellowship is through payment for that sin. No one is “good enough” to get to heaven. Only Jesus can make us “good enough” because HE is MORE than “good enough”!!

So, what is your choice? If you are not choosing Him, you are choosing a life without Him (both now, and in the life to come). Either you accept Jesus’ payment for your debt, or you pay for your debt yourself. If you choose Him now, that is an eternal “yes” for later. But, if you reject Him now, you are rejecting Him later as well. When it comes to the question of Hell, just say “NO”!

Craig told us all to come down to the dimly lit smoking “pit” that they had made to symbolize Hell. He told us to take a stone from it to remind us to help rescue others from it. In Jude 1:21-23, the Word says: “ Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. And of some have compassion, making a difference: And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.”

I know that there is so much more I could talk about. This blog merely scratches the surface of all the endless questions. If you need more answers about Hell, there is a book that I saw recently entitled “Hell” by Bill Wiese. I haven’t read it, but it looks very informative. Also, if you would like to talk about any questions you have, I am here for you. I will do my best to answer them. If I don’t have an answer, I have pastors and friends that I can ask. Though, of course, no one has ALL the answers; only God does. Ask Him; He knows!

Grace and peace to all of you!! I’m hoping and praying that all of us will work together to help “rescue” others who are headed down the wrong path. May we all be diligent about pulling people out of that pit and I pray that they will be willing to be pulled out!! If you need a hand to pull you out, give me a holler!! God bless you all!!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Truth Serum Anyone??

Sorting Good Fruit From The Bad Apples

Don't you just wish that an injection of truth serum were a mandatory requirement before being allowed to engage in a presidential debate in front of the American people? Wouldn't it be GREAT if they were unable to lie to our faces, for at least ninety minutes, so we wouldn't have to guess and discern the lies from the truth (if, in fact, any truth is present)? I think I speak for the majority of Americans when I ask, when are we going to get some honest clean cut answers?!!

It's so hard to figure out who is really being straight up. As you all know, I don't favor McCain very highly, but I certainly don't sing the praises of Obama. Many may say that supporting McCain is the lesser of the two evils and that even the lesser of the two evils is still an evil. While this may be true, we must remember that, in fact, there is no perfect or "good" candidate because there is no perfect person. Consider Mark 10:18 which says: "Why do you call me good?" Jesus answered. "No one is good—except God alone." Additionally, Romans 3:10 says: "As it is written: 'There is no one righteous, not even one;'" So, if you are looking for a perfect role model in a politician (or in anyone for that matter!) you will not find it because we all sin and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Even if the rightful nominee (Mike Huckabee) had won, he would still be no more "righteous" than anyone else. As wonderful as he is (and considerably more favorable when it comes to qualities we would want in a president) he is still just as human, imperfect, and naturally evil because of our sinful nature that we inherited from our forefather Adam. However, the only thing that distinguishes one sinful human being from another is whether or not they are saved, sealed, and led by the Holy Spirit or not. Those that are on God's side of things are more apt to do what's in the best interest of everyone, versus a person who only follows their own natural human desires.

This is the fundamental difference between Obama/Biden and McCain/Palin. In Matthew 7:15-23, Jesus tells us that we will know a person by their fruit. "A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit" (v. 18). And, verse 21 says: "Not everyone that says 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven." So, when looking at the "fruitful" evidence of Obama/Biden and McCain/Palin, what kind of fruit do we see?? Well, with McCain/Palin, we see lives characterized by morality and faith. They are people who are going to look out for us because they don't neglect to look out for even the smallest and defenseless of people; such as those with disabilities and the unborn (and who exemplifies that better than Palin?!). We don't have to worry about where they stand on the issue of human life. They will value our lives because they don't demean and dismiss the lives of the most special, innocent, and vulnerable of Americans.

The "Inconvenient Truth" About Obama's Views On Life


Unfortunately, Obama/Biden don't share this same view. To them, lives are only valuable if they are "wanted." They believe in the "choice" to dispose of humans if they are an inconvenience to someone else. If you would like to see proof of this mentality, check out the video in which, among other statements, Obama tells us that "if they make a mistake…I don't want them punished with a baby." Excuse me…..life is punishment? A human life is punishment?? Barack, you have been hanging around Planned Parenthood too long!! (By the way, in that same video, he asserts: "I will not yield and Planned Parenthood will not yield." Gee, how comforting!).

So, do we want someone who puts his stamp of approval on murder to be running our country? Do we really believe that the same man who spoke in the latest presidential debate (and talked about providing for kids with special needs as well as doing what's in the best interest of our children's education) is really going to deliver when he turns around and tells Planned Parenthood and their zombified cronies that life is a "choice" and that if you make a "mistake" you can kill it? I don't believe for one second that he's going to look out for children, like my hearing impaired son, when he promotes KILLING those who are "imperfect" and "unworthy" of life because they are not physically or mentally flawless when one uses an ultrasound to peek into a mother's womb. I don't believe the hypocrisy of Barack Obama who claims he values children like my son, but would have fully supported my "choice" to kill him if I deemed his life unworthy for any reason and didn't want to be burdened or "punished" by giving birth to him. You know what, Mr. Obama? It's a real pity that you haven't been "punished" with such a blessing as I have. If you had, the heart of love and compassion that dwells within the being of my child might just melt your heart of stone!!!!

For this reason, and many others, I side with McCain/Palin who practice what they preach and fully recognize, as McCain asserted in the last debate, that "we have to change the culture of America" and use "courage and compassion" to reach out to those who are facing difficult and unplanned pregnancies. McCain also hit the issue right on the head when he pointed out that Obama's views are "in direct contradiction to the feelings and views of mainstream America." Amen to that!! The majority of Americans know deep down in their souls that life is LIFE!! McCain affirmed (when asked by Rick Warren) that a baby acquires human rights "at the moment of conception." In contrast, Obama's statement was: "answering that question with specificity…is above my pay grade" (See the provided link to watch him answer).

Barack Obama's Double Talk

Is all this enough information for you? Well, in case you need some more solid evidence of Obama's contradictions, let's look at a few statements that he made in the last debate (hopefully, the video link will work so you can see the segment for yourself). He said: "if it sounds incredible that I would vote to withhold life-saving treatment from an infant that's because…it's….not true……." It's not true?!! Are you kidding me?!! Then how do you explain voting against it four times? (For more on this, check out http://www.bornalivetruth.org/ and be sure to watch the videos of abortion survivor Gianna Jessen; whom I named my daughter after). And, in addition to that, he also voted "present" on critical abortion decisions (such as partial birth abortion) just because it didn't provide a "health" exception for the mother. He said: "I am completely supportive of a ban on late term abortions, partial birth or otherwise, as long as there is an exception for the mother's health and life." Though, if he TRULY knew what abortion does to a woman's "health and life" he would think differently. He should talk to the women who tell me their "health and life" stories. Having abortions never benefited their "health and life" one bit!! In fact, it is very much the opposite; having effects on either their physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual health (or all of the above in most cases!). Their risks for complications, future infertility, breast cancer, depression, and even suicide increase dramatically!! And yet, Obama wants a PROVISION for all of this??? If it was REALLY about protecting a woman's health, he wouldn't promote something that destroys it!!!

Barack Obama and Planned Parenthood

One last factor we must be aware of is his emphatic support of Planned Parenthood. It's very telling when he says about unplanned pregnancies that "we should try to reduce these circumstances" ("reducing" human life is something Planned Parenthood loves!!) and that "we should try to prevent unintended pregnancies…by providing appropriate education to our youth; communicating that sexuality is sacred and that they should not be engaged in cavalier activity…and providing options for adoption and helping single mothers if they want to choose to keep the baby….." It sounds so heart-warming until you consider that his mother-ship is Planned Parenthood; the ones who market sexuality to our children (which is FAR FROM "appropriate education")!! They "educate" and indoctrinate our young little minds with perverse and pornographic material such as the book "It's Perfectly Normal" which graphically displays all sorts of immoral and outrageous sexual acts (whether hetero or homosexual, and whether with or without a person to do it with!). This is also the organization that actively pushes "responsible" sexual activity by promoting contraception and condoms to our kids!! If Barack Obama believes that sexuality is "sacred" then why is he aligned with this perverse and vulgar organization that treats this special bond as anything but? Planned Parenthood is the champion of "cavalier activity"!! Not only that, but they demean and mock abstinence and never bother to hinder anyone from denying their bodies the pleasure that they have every "right" to!

Listen Up, Wake Up, Wise Up!!

"He who has ears, let him hear" - Matthew 13:9. Are you listening America? Are you watching? Are you seeing the hearts and the fruit that comes forth from those hearts? If we value our lives, we best be voting for the ones who value them too!! And, as you can see, life is most definitely NOT a priority for Obama. Strange isn't? Life is….well…..LIFE!! Without life, what existence would there be? Life is the foundation for everything!! And yet, he despises and destroys it!! Will we elect someone with this mentality into the white house? May God help us all if we do!! Pray, people, PRAY!!! Grace and peace to all of you!!

Monday, October 13, 2008

"Does God Care?"

Today, Chad began an introduction to a new series he's entitling "sink clips." If the name sounds strange to you, join the club!! LOL Since I'm a woman, I don't often relate to or understand home improvement stuff very well (and from how Chad described it, neither does he!). He said that sink clips are strange and complicated things that hold a sink in place and that they are really difficult to deal with! Therefore, he found "sink clips" to be a very fitting title considering these tough questions he will be tackling! (For more information on these topics, he said we can check out www.mosaic.org/podcast):

"Does God care?"
"What's the deal with Hell?"
"What about sex?"
"Is Jesus the only way?"
"Is faith nonsense?"
"Is God in your future?"

Tough questions indeed!! Though, as he pointed out in Colossians 4:5-6, we need to be prepared to answer them when they are asked of us! He acknowledged just how hard that can be sometimes; especially with people we meet our match with! He said he had that problem with an atheist lady he used to work with. He wanted to witness to her, but never attempted it because he knew how sharp and smart she was in arguments. He said that she was better about defending why she DIDN'T believe than he was about what he DOES believe!! Atheists (or any non-Christians for that matter) are very hard to convince because to them, the things of God are foolish (1 Corinthians 1:18-31). But, as it also says in those verses, we don't have to be educated and wise by the world's standards in order to win a soul to Christ!! The Holy Spirit gives us the wisdom we need. Still, we need to be prepared to gently and respectfully give answers for the hope that we have (1 Peter 3:15).

So, to start off the series, he began with the first question that I'm sure all of us have asked ourselves many times: "Does God care?" Have you ever wrestled with that in your darkest of moments? I know I have!!

I'm sure that if we look in God's Word, we will see lots of opportunities for that question to be asked. Did God care about Job in his suffering? Did Jesus care that Lazarus died? Of course He does!! God's heart breaks just as much as ours does - and even more so! He doesn't want us to suffer. However, He sometimes allows us to endure the consequences of our own actions/choices in order for us to grow. After all, the Lord disciplines those that He loves (Proverbs 3:12) just like any parent does a child. No one WANTS to see their children suffer, but every now and then, you have GOT to let them learn by making their own mistakes if they are to learn and grow at all!! It's just like a podcast I listened to yesterday in which it was pointed out that the prodigal son's father didn't even argue with the son about getting his inheritance. I'm sure the father knew how foolish and unwise it was, but he knew it was a sacrifice he had to make in order for his son's eyes to be opened to what true riches were. So, he just gave him his portion, and when he hit rock bottom and came back, the father just dusted him off and loved him just as much!!

That also reminds me of a particular time in my life where I had a "prodigal" moment. It concerns the last guy I dated (the boyfriend prior to Mitch). I knew that going out with him wouldn't be a wise use of my time, and God knew it too! In fact, I remember driving in my car and praying about it. I remember that God told me not to go out with him, but I had it in my head that it would all work out and that if anything, I would be a good influence on this guy (back then, I always wanted to "save" the "bad boys"). God told me that he would only cause me pain and break my heart, but I bluntly said that I was going to do it anyways. I'll never forget when God whispered to me, "Ok. I'll be right here waiting for you when you come back- after he breaks your heart." I had tears in my eyes because I knew I was making a very stupid mistake, but that God was stepping aside and allowing me to make it. God doesn't force his will on anyone. We wonder why he doesn't prevent or stop our suffering, but we don't even realize how much he really does prevent (or tries to prevent) if only we would listen!!! Think about how much I could have avoided if I hadn't arrogantly thought that I knew better than God and that "this time, it will be different."

So, to make a long story short, I picked a real winner (NOT!). He was never there for me. He always had an excuse for why he couldn't hang around me. He was totally disinterested and lazy when it came to having any kind of relationship, and he made absolutely no effort to be around me. I was always the one chasing him down, and always finding dead ends when he wasn't where he said he was going to be. It was such a waste of time! My earthly father even spoke up and voiced his concern about this particular boyfriend (which amazed me because he never really said anything about who I went out with). So, I finally woke up and broke up!!

The greater point of all of this is that God isn't the source of our misery, He is the CURE for it!! Satan (as well as our own selves) are the ones that cause pain and misery, not God! He is not to blame. He is the one who wants to restore! Why else would He care enough to send His Son to die for our sins in order that we could be with Him for all eternity? Why else would He walk this earth and experience/empathize with His own creation? Why else would He choose to suffer on our behalf and not spare Himself the humiliation, agony, and death for US? GOD doesn't cause pain, WE DO!! WE inherited the sin bloodline from Adam. We inherited the selfishness, pride, and sinful nature that demands our independence and our own way apart from God. We picked our poison and are living in the consequences. Satan also helps aid in our self-destruction because he wants to cause the most misery and hurt to God's heart as possible. He gets no greater pleasure than to say, "Ha! See God!! Your children hate you!! They blame YOU for all of this!! I am pulling on their strings and influencing them to act out in their flesh rather than that blasted Holy Spirit you gave them - which I hate!! All these horrible people created in your image are spitting in your face…..and I LOVE IT!!!"

How long will we wonder if God really cares about us? How long will we sit in our "ashes" before we trade them in for beauty? That's something else that I heard in a podcast yesterday, and that concept is found in Isaiah 61:3. We may have gone through a lot of junk in our life, but God sees and God cares. He feels our pain and He hates to see His children hurting each other. The day will come when He will restore all things. Many are the people that wronged us, and they can never undo or repay what they have done, but GOD will repay! He will repay THEM (Romans 12:19) and He will also repay us (Isaiah 62:11)! He will most assuredly work all things out of our good (Romans 8:28) just as He promises! He will rebuild and restore us if we allow Him to heal us!! Like a phoenix, we can rise out of the ashes and trade them in for beauty!! Just as we witnessed the restoration of Job, and the resurrection of Lazarus, so can we have newness, restoration, and healing in our lives because of the fact that Jesus really does care!!!

No matter what you have been through or how much you hurt, God is there for you. Maybe it's hard to understand or accept, but He does love you and wants nothing but good things for you!! Bask in the glory of His love and grace this week!! May His grace and peace be with you!!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

"Be, Go, Stop"

Last week, we were privileged to hear Tony Chaney preach. As always, he brought a powerful and thought provoking message (a message you can now listen to on the church website). He talked about the encounter that Saul (later known as Paul) had with Jesus on the road to Damascus. He described how the power of God just brings you to your knees. He even shared stories of how he's experienced it in his own life; those times where you just feel the weight of God's presence in your chest and you can't help but bow down (or fall down!). He says it's that feeling of your heart being humbled and brought low in God's presence; it's a place of grace that lifts you up.

In all his explanations of what that's like, I could think of several examples where I experienced it as well. It's indescribable!! When the presence of God hits, you can just feel it in the depths of your soul and with every fiber of your being. For me, it causes me to get weak and tremble. I most definitely have to sit down and just take it all in!

Tony talked about how that powerful presence just melts away the hardness in our hearts - much like it did for Saul. He was the toughest, meanest, persecutor of Christians that there was! Yet, ONE ENCOUNTER with God melted all of it away!! Saul's whole world stopped in that instant and for three days, he was blind as he waited on the Lord.

Tony said he wonders about what went through Saul's head during that time. God's Word tells us that he was blind for three days, and that he fasted and prayed. Can you imagine what it must have been like for Saul to be in utter darkness? Spiritually, he already had been, but now, it was combined with the physical reality of what it was like to live in the dark and not in the light. He had to be dependent on everyone. He was led by the hand and had to rely on others to guide him. I think that was the grander vision that God wanted him to understand; that on his own, he was nothing. His life had to be all about Jesus and being led by HIM!

The other thing Tony mentioned, that I had always marveled at as well, was the part when Ananias laid his hands on Saul and called him "brother." Ananias might have been one of the people on Saul's list to kill only a few days before, and yet, he was sent to heal him!! That takes an amazing faith, courage, and obedience that is way beyond what anyone could do in their flesh!! Ananias surely had to be empowered and strengthened by the Holy Spirit in order to do that!! And, to call Saul "brother" when only a few days ago he was a persecutor and enemy - WOW!!

Tony said that when we are flooded with the love of Jesus, he changes our heart and our perspective. That was how Ananias was able to do what he did. He very well could have been like, "Saul is blinded? You want ME to go lay hands on him and heal him? NO WAY!! That guy is a murderer!! He killed my fellow brothers and sisters! How do I know that he doesn't still want to kill me? I say let him stay that way! Serves him right!!" He would have had every right to feel that way too. Saul did terrible things; and probably to people close to Ananias. However, Ananias chose to obey the Spirit of God rather than his flesh and his feelings. He trusted that God took care of things and therefore, he was able to do what God asked.

In Tony's last words, he described what it means to follow God in faith. He said to listen, acknowledge, and ask. We have to be open to hearing and listening to God. Then, we have to acknowledge and affirm what we have heard and then ask what our part in it must be.

Tony also said the words "be, go, stop." That may sound confusing, but it's easy to understand if you think about the meaning/action behind the words. Many times we just need to "stop" and "be" so that we can "be" and "go." Does that make sense? Or, if you want to take things literally and sequentially, "be" in God's presence, "go" when he asks you to move, and "stop" when your part in it is done. All of it needs to be within God's direction. We need to patiently wait on Him and "be" and then be obedient to "go" and wise to "stop". We mustn't try to force things beyond where God wants to take it. I see that perfect example in Ananias because in order for Him to hear God, he had to have been listening (and listening is easier when you take time to be still and quiet). In the stillness and in his "be"ing, Ananias heard the Lord. Then, he was obedient to the Lord's call to "go" and then "stopped" when his task was done. He didn't try to go beyond what God asked by trying to teach/preach to Saul or who knows what else he might have wanted to say/do in his flesh. He did what God called him to do, and then let God continue the work according to His own plan. Sometimes, that is hard to follow through on when we have too much of our own agenda in mind. I know that for me, personally, there have been times where I have wanted to do what "I" thought was better, but God wanted me to just "stop" and step aside so he could handle a situation (or in some situations, a person) better than I could. It can be really hard to let go of your own will; especially when you or others involved don't understand. All that counts, however, is what is between you and God - no one else's judgments or lack of understanding matters. And God is God…..He can and will help others understand in due time; if it's His will to reveal it to them. Like He so often reminds me, "Sometimes, you have to be ok with not knowing things, Melissa." (That's another hard one for me considering how much I like to have answers!! LOL).

Focus on faith, and on those "action words" this week!! Experience the presence of God and don't be afraid to let Him humble you so that He can lift you up!! Grace and peace to all of you!!!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Blessings of Character

Last week, I answered the phone and heard the voice of my son’s principal on the other end. Nervous and concerned, I asked her if Casey was ok or if he had done something wrong. She happily assured me that everything was fine and that she was calling me to tell me good news. She explained to me that Casey would be receiving a certificate of recognition for an “Awesome Office Visit.” She told me that teachers nominate students for various things, and that Casey had been nominated by several teachers because of his display of compassion. She told me about the countless times he had rushed to comfort children on the playground, when they were in tears, or how he had kissed the “ouchie” of a teacher in the lunchroom (who was wearing a wrist brace) and asked if she was ok.

As I listened to how she praised him, my heart just melted and tears filled my eyes. She told me what a sweet boy Casey is and said “thank you for sharing him with us!” All of which further pierced my heart with humility as I thought about how reluctant I had been to let him attend public school. Because of his special needs, I had to let go of my desire to home-school him in order for him to excel beyond what I was equipped to provide. At his school, he gets specialized help for his hearing disabilities, and learns/grows much better from others than he does from plain old Mommy. It was hard for me to accept it, and I felt like I had failed him, until I came to grips with how much greater a failure it would be if I didn’t do what was in his best interest. It was in that time that the church counselor told me to put this phrase from God on my fridge: “Do you trust me?” That phrase still remains on my fridge as I make the continuous choice to say “Yes, Father. I trust You with my son; the child You gave to me and love even more than I do. I know that everything is going to be alright and that You will work all things out for good.”

For me, few things have been sweeter than that moment in which I seen the fruit of trust; the fact that Casey is Casey no matter where he goes (and that he is blessing the lives of others!). I see the promise of Proverbs 22:6 at work: “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.“

I am assured that Casey will continue growing in compassion; especially if I continue to nurture his character (just as a special speaker mentioned to all us Moms at our “Mom Life” meeting). In this, there is true treasure and success!! In fact, I framed his little office award so that he will know that more than any trophy, degree, or whatever is to come in his life, CHARACTER is what counts - and we will value that more than anything else!!

Even though Casey doesn’t understand what he has done, or what his compassion does for others, I know that one day he will. His certificate of recognition isn’t realized by him right now, but it is realized by me, my family, and my heavenly Father. I praise God for how much He has taught me, and others, through Casey’s heart and gifts. These are the moments that transcend every moment of failure, doubt, or frustration that one has when they’re a Mom. These precious moments make the rough ones more bearable when you remember that underneath all the sibling rivalry, tantrums, and struggles, there is true character and a love for God in the heart of your child; something that you helped to shape and model somehow - even with all your own imperfections.

May all your lives be filled with the treasures that come from the blessings of character!! Grace and peace to all of you!!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

"It's All About The Heart"

Last week, Chad focused on Colossians 4:2-4 which talks about prayer. Chad emphasized, just as Paul did in his letter, that we need to have a devotion to prayer because prayer opens doors.

Chad even went so far as to illustrate a few prayer “mindsets” that some of us may have. He had a “deal or no deal” looking button and said that sometimes, we do that in prayer. The thing is, God is the one deciding “deal or no deal” when we “bargain” with Him. I’m sure we’ve all had times where we have tried to make deals with God haven’t we? Though, we needn’t have to if we know how much He truly loves us. We don’t have to make “deals” with our Father. He already made the ultimate deal by giving us grace!!

The next illustration Chad showed us was the “time card” area where we just kind of serve our time in prayer. Clock in and clock out….pretty monotonous. Not that having scheduled prayer or carving out time to do so each day is a bad thing, but we got to be careful that it doesn’t become so “routine” that we don’t engage our heart in it.

Then, there are the “dartboard” prayers. He had a target hanging up in the air and then just kind of tossed some darts at random up in the air (kind of like some kids do when they are tossing pencils in the ceiling at school). We just kind of throw up some quick prayers here and there and then go about our day.

Then, Chad showed us the basketball prayers - the kind of “hit or miss” prayers. He says with those, sometimes our devotion to the request is greater than it is to God. We are so focused on the ball and making it in, that we forget about whether it’s God’s will or not and if we should be “shooting” for it at all.

The final illustration that he showed us was the lawnmower/chainsaw prayers. He used his son to help him demonstrate it because he said that whenever he uses those machines, his little boy is always right there. “He’s all about my business” he said. So, hand and hand, they do the work together and they have that fellowship.

These are only but a few of the many mindsets that one may have about prayer. Chad said there are pros and cons to all of the things mentioned. None of them are really “bad” methods. What counts is the heart and how our minds are focused on prayer. As God always reminds me, “It’s all about the heart, Melissa.” God is interested in our hearts; our business.

I have probably prayed in a lot of different mindsets before (probably all of the above mentioned and then some!). Though, if I were to describe my “ideal” way of prayer, it would probably be illustrated a lot differently. When I think of true heart to heart prayer, I think of peace, comfort, and intimacy. I think about sitting on the couch and imagining that I am just sitting on the lap of my Father - telling Him everything. Or, maybe it’s kind of like going to a “shrink” where you lay on the couch and tell God about everything and He listens, counsels, and instructs you - filling you with wisdom, instruction, and helping to transform you into a better person than you were when you walked in the door. As wonderful as that is, I think that vision of prayer sometimes scares people because they fear that closeness (as well as change). Getting to that place with God can be uneasy and painful sometimes - especially if you aren’t really open to His instruction. Even more so if you are dealing with a great deal of buried pain and need healing. Even still, it’s all worth it once you get it all out!! God is with you through it all and He’s all about restoration and renewal!!

I pray that throughout this week, prayer will be something on the hearts of all of us. Prayer needs to be a continuous thing (1 Thessalonians 5:17) no matter how long or short the prayers are. It’s not quantity, it’s the quality - it’s the HEART!!! Connect to God through your heart; that’s all that matters!!!

Grace and peace to all of you!! God bless you!!