Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Promise On The Other Side

**Sorry I haven’t been around to blog much. I know I haven’t blogged several of the church sermons (and I don’t think I’ll get caught up). If you’d like, can always listen to the ones you missed at www.missionoflife.com**

Last Sunday, Craig preached about being “hard-pressed” in our faith. He asked: “What do you do when you’re a Christian and life’s a mess?“ He started off by talking about the testimony of C.S. Lewis. I’m sure many of you know who he is. He is the author of “The Chronicles of Narnia” books as well as many other renowned books like “The Screwtape Letters“ and “Mere Christianity.” (If you want to read more about C.S. Lewis, you can look him up on www.wikipedia.com where they have all the details). Though, for the sake of this blog, I will just tell you a little bit about him: 

C.S. Lewis was raised in church, but turned his back on his faith and became an atheist when he was fifteen. He later returned to his faith in his thirties. I remember watching a documentary about him in the bonus features of “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe”. I remember how they said that he had ideas for Narnia before he was saved, but that it didn’t come to life until after he had dedicated his life to Christ - as if God had unlocked his mind. I just LOVE that because there are just so many things we DON’T know or can’t accomplish until we are totally opened and surrendered to God. THEN, he unlocks our mind and shows us all that we’re missing and all that He wants to accomplish in us and through us!! That’s exactly what He did with C.S. Lewis! 

C.S. Lewis eventually fell in love and married a woman named Joy later in life. She had cancer, and he hoped and prayed that she would recover. After being in remission for a while, the cancer came back and she died. It was devastating for him. 

Craig said that C.S. Lewis was able to get through his pain through realizing how much pain God’s own Son had gone through. Jesus wasn’t spared hardship and pain, even though He’s the one and only perfect man to ever walk the earth and the Savior of mankind. We live in a fallen world full of sin, so bad things are bound to happen to everyone.

The question we all have, though, is “why?”  It’s a question with no easy answers - and sometimes no real answers at all. We may never know the “whys” behind everything, but Craig pointed out the scripture form John 9:1-3 in which the disciples asked Jesus whose fault it was that a man was born blind. Jesus said that it was neither the man’s, nor the parents’, fault that he was blind but that the power of God could be displayed in Him. This is the same scripture that has always personally touched me because my son was born hearing impaired. I had the same thoughts of “fault” at first. Craig says that we do that because we are too “past and causal.” We are so focused on the past and what mistakes and bad things have occurred to “cause” what happened that we miss out on the fact that God is going to shine through the circumstance. It’s ok to wonder and ask “why”, but if we remain stuck in those “whys” we will never move forward. That is why I resolved to move on quickly once I found out that Casey had hearing loss. We prayed that maybe it was a temporary thing and that God would heal him and make it alright, but when that didn’t happen, we let go and moved on. The verse that was on my mind at the time was Job’s response to his wife’s urging to “curse God and die” (that phrase sums up Satan’s ultimate goal for all of us doesn’t it?!) Job told her: “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?" Faith is a piece of cake when everything is good isn’t it? But, the minute anything goes wrong, is God suddenly not good anymore? No, of course not! James 1:2-4 says: Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” Any hardships we go through tests our faith and builds our character. Does anyone develop a mature faith without experiencing tests? Does a doctor become an expert without demonstrating  and perfecting his knowledge and skills with each medical crisis he is faced with? How does one learn without being tested and disciplined? God disciplines those He loves (Proverbs 3:12). 

I know that no matter what, God is going to do mighty and wonderful things through my child! He has chosen him to be a shining example of His power and glory; whether that‘s ministering to others as he is or whether God chooses to miraculously heal him for all to see and believe in!! In my son’s life so far, he has been a blessing to everyone that knows him! He’s the sweetest most compassionate child you would ever meet and melts the hearts of those around him. What God has allowed to happen in Casey’s life is all for His  glory and the purpose to which my son is called (Romans 8:28). 

We all go through pain and struggles. It’s hard, and sometimes there’s no good reason or explanation. Sometimes, we go through times like Job did. Like Job, and like my son Casey, things will work out for good (Romans 8:28). There is a promise on the other side of our suffering if we will walk through it and persevere. And, we are not alone! There are those that have gone through the same things and know our pain. We have friends to walk through our struggles with us (and of course, we have Jesus). Whatever hardship you are going through, you’ll make it!! If you need someone to “make it” with, let me know!! I’ll walk through it with you as best I can!! 

God bless all of you!! May His grace and peace be with you today, tomorrow, and always!! 

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

True Christmas Joy!!

Christmas is all about God's gift to His own creation; sending His Son, Jesus Christ, to redeem His children from their sins. Salvation is available to all who choose Him. Today, I am proud to rejoice in the fact that a former lost sheep has been found and has chosen to follow the Good Shepherd!! He officially announced his loyalty to Christ and I am overwhelmed with joy and thanksgiving at the news!! It is certainly cause for rejoicing!! Ashli, from the S.I.C.L.E Cell blog, stated it brilliantly in her blog entry today (which I encourage you to read!).

I never tire of hearing the blessed testimonies of a person's journey to the Lord! It's always a joyous blessing to me!! Matthew 19:26 comes to mind today: "Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." AMEN!!! It reminds me of Saul's conversion after his encounter with Jesus. When you experience Jesus, you are never the same! Saul/Paul was forever changed!! Likewise with my friend, The Raving Atheist, who is now called The Raving Theist. Praise God for another "Paul" who has seen the light!! The world will look forward to all the ways his testimony will minister to others and win more Sauls to Christ!!

Join with me in giving thanks to God for His love and grace. Thank Him for His sacrifice for your sins and for your redemption!! There is nothing greater to celebrate!! And, if you have a moment, encourage and welcome the reformed RA (now RT) into the family of God!!

Grace and peace to all of you!! Merry Christmas to you all - and happy birthday Jesus!!!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Dear Al

Dear Al,

I must confess, you were right about global warming. Right now, we are experiencing an unbearable heat wave and eleven degrees is just about as intolerable as it gets!! It's so hot that my furnace decided to take the rest of the year off (seriously, he's not working right now!). So, I have had to wait out this miserable warm weather at my father's house while we continue trying to coax Mr. Furnace out of hiberation. I have no worries about my house's plumbing because you have assured us all that Earth is so hot that we are in no danger of freezing to death or having our pipes explode.

I will continue to hope that those polar ice caps don't melt and wipe out the world. The last thing we need is water rushing down from the north. Or, maybe that's what really happened over the last week or two!! Maybe that's why our trees are frozen in ice and people are trying to dig themselves out of their frosted tombs!! Oh my goodness, did I just say ICE??!! Ha ha, I guess the heat is making me dillusional because surely our flaming hot planet isn't experiencing any cold weather - and certainly not at temperatures below zero!! I mean really.....who has heard of such a thing?!! We're all boiling alive so what's all this talk about ice and cold weather? And snow....ha!! What a fairy tale!!! (Shhhhh, don't tell those hallucinating Arizonians I said that! They really think it's snowing!!).

Well, that's about all I have to say. Thanks for all you do to promote your very "convenient" lie.....oops, I mean "inconvenient truth." I'm glad that you and all your enlightened little zombies are so wise to the truth that all of us frigid Americans are in denial over. Once we all wise up, I'm sure we'll all "chill out" soon!! Thanks Al!!

Sincerely,

Melissa :)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Thank You Planned Parenthood!

What you are about to see is a shocking undercover video. Of course, we all know that Planned Parenthood is always truthful, compassionate, and always looking out for the well-being of women everywhere so I'm sure this video will be a huge surprise to everyone that holds Planned Parenthood in such high regard. Who would have thought that Planned Parenthood would gladly help to cover up a criminal offense against a 13 year old girl? Wow! I was so surprised - NOT!!!!! Oh, by the way, this happened in my very own home state!! Gee, I'm so proud!! :P Thank you Jill Stanek for blogging about this!! Check out www.jillstanek.com for more updates!!

Additionally, I would like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas!! Oh, and don't forget to buy some lovely Planned Parenthood gift certificates for the women closest to you this "holiday" season. They make great stocking stuffers! Nothing says you love them like a gift of death!! Once again, thank you Planned Parenthood for caring so much and please don't cease to distribute your "Choice on Earth" cards !! I haven't heard any mention of them yet this year, but I hope that you aren't backing down from sharing your message of goodwill and peace! I would surely miss my "holiday card" if you neglected to keep sharing your priceless message!

Anyways, we appreciate your efforts to enrich the lives of women everywhere as you inflict more pain on them in an already strenuous time in our nation's history. We thank you, Planned Parenthood, foryour support of FOCA . We hope that Mr. Obama will keep his promise to you and sign the bill straight away so that you can help to spread even more death and destruction in the lives of women everywhere. Thank you for all you do!! We'll continue giving you our tax dollars so you can keep spreadin' the love!! Yes, we know that Washington could do the ethical, responsible, and smart thing by putting our dollars to better use elsewhere (like, oh I don't know, fixing the economy) but we would rather filter our dollars to you so you can keep killing our generation and inflicting physical, emotional, and psychological pain on everyone. We can't get enough of that!! I'm sure your founder, Margaret Sanger, would be so proud!! Thank you for working so hard to get rid of so many "human weeds" (especially the "black" ones …..those are the worst right?).

So, are you thoroughly nauseated yet? If you aren't YOU SHOULD BE!! While we are busy celebrating the hope and life of Jesus Christ, Planned Parenthood is working harder than ever to snuff it out by promoting their death agenda!! So PLEASE check out the links that I have shared in this blog and get involved!! Don't let your loved ones suffer at their hands!! May God help us all!!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Newness Under the Son

I wrote this for the Mom Life Newsletter at church. My hope is that the meaning and hope of Christmas will be fresh and new in our hearts!! God bless you all!! Merry Christmas!!

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"What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun."
Ecclesiastes 1:9 (NIV)

Do you ever feel like Solomon, like there is nothing new and that everything is just the same old thing? Does it seem like everything just repeats itself over and over again? Such is the case with me the older that I get (and I am only 26!). I find that there is nothing "new under the sun" and that everything just cycles and repeats in a monotonous routine. It's how I felt when beginning to write because I struggled to come up with something beautiful, inspiring, and focused on the reason for Christmas. Though, the more I tried, the more cliché it seemed. Don't get me wrong, there is nothing cliché about Christ's birth and the miracle of what God has done for us. What I'm talking about is the tireless beat of the drum at this time of year. The whole "in the midst of your shopping, get-togethers, etc. don't forget that He's the reason for the season." I mean, don't we all know that by now? We are reminded of it every single year. Yet, everything repeats. We get through the holidays, celebrate a new year, and the seasons change, holidays come and go, and everything just keep going and repeating.

How do we stay fresh in a world that has gone stale? How do we find the "newness" under the sun? Well, my friends, I think that we need to think about things a little differently than Solomon. He was probably the wisest human to ever live, and yet, he seemed so empty. That is why he came to the conclusion that there was nothing "new" and that all had been done before because he had "been there, done that" so much. Hence, he became bored and discontent when there was seemingly nothing new left to discover or experience. So, of course there was "nothing new under the sun" because nothing under the sun can fulfill! ALL of it will grow cold and lose its luster! This world cannot offer us anything that lasts.

Thankfully, since Solomon's time, we have been blessed with something truly new: the new covenant! Now THAT would have been something for him to discover and experience! Maybe he wouldn't have been so bored if he could have had the renewal that all of us can have in Christ every day of our lives! Though, even with all this "newness" at our fingertips, we STILL get bored because we are still searching for fulfillment under the sun rather than the SON!

This concept provokes deep thoughts in my heart. It stirs me because I know that I get "bored" a lot. Though, I don't suppose there is much excuse for that when there is so much joy, fulfillment, and LIFE in Christ (which is FAR from boring)! Yet, we still get stuck in the temporal things and wonder why we are wasting away inside.

Christ never gets old, and the newness doesn't lose it's luster. It's our desire for him that sometimes wears away. We get busy, distracted, and overloaded with responsibilities (and even the blessings) of our lives. Just like Solomon, we can have so much and still be so bored and discontent. Dear friends, this need not be! Jesus said that he came to give us life to the fullest (John 10:10). Life isn't found in the temporal things, but the things that are unseen and non-material (2 Corinthians 4:18). The unseen things are what last, and what will fill us and bring us joy. These are the things of the Spirit; the untouchables that we cannot get our hands on, but fill us beyond measure! It's the loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, and self-controlled moments that bring us unfathomable renewal, and keep us from getting bored, apathetic, and on a downward spiral in our lives (Galatians 5:22-23).

I pray that we would do more than just "survive" the season and breeze through all the traditions, rituals, etc. I pray that we will remember the "Jesus is the reason for the season" mantra, but that it will truly sink into our hearts. I pray that the newness the Son brings will fill us up with gladness as we focus on the freshness that Jesus can bring to each moment of our lives; whether we have experienced them over and over again or not!!

Grace and peace to all of you!! Have a truly blessed Christmas as you celebrate the Son!!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Do You Have A "Morning Mist" Heart?

Last Sunday, Chad began talking about the blessing of Christmas and all that there is to celebrate. Though, as he pointed out, it is all too easy to get swept into the worldliness of Christmas and lose sight of the real thing.

Chad described being excited about finding that “perfect” toy for one of his children and how he just got a joy and a rush from it. He said that just that quick, he became convicted as he thought about how we so often miss that joy and that “rush” when it comes to Jesus. When was the last time we got that feeling of intense joy when we thought about or experienced Jesus?

The thing that I liked most about Chad’s message was when he touched on the core aspect of what God wants (and has always wanted) from us: our hearts. God is ALWAYS bringing this phrase to my mind: “It’s all about the heart, Melissa” as well as, “It’s not about you.” Indeed it’s true. It’s not about me, you, or anyone else; it’s about HIM. It’s about the HEART and not “stuff” or our meager attempts to do everything “right” and “perfect” all the time. He wants sincerity and authenticity. He wants intimacy, depth, and a heart-to-heart relationship with us.

Chad used these scriptures to illustrate things:

I know all about Ephraim; Israel is not hidden from me. Ephraim, you have now turned to prostitution; Israel is corrupt. "Their deeds do not permit them to return to their God. A spirit of prostitution is in their heart; they do not acknowledge the LORD. (Hosea 5:3-4)

"What can I do with you, Ephraim? What can I do with you, Judah? Your love is like the morning mist, like the early dew that disappears. Therefore I cut you in pieces with my prophets, I killed you with the words of my mouth; my judgments flashed like lightning upon you. For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.” (Hosea 6:4-6)

What is He going to do with us? It’s just like a parent sometimes says to their child, “What am I going to do with you?” I know I feel that way sometimes!! When children are stubborn and willful, you just get so frustrated and wonder how you are going to manage them. It would be nice to have some compliance and obedience - or at the very least, acknowledgment. Both scriptures talk about acknowledging God. He wants more than our rituals and “religion”, He wants our hearts to be in it. He desires the obedience and love that comes from turning from our ways and repenting. He doesn’t want the “morning mist” hearts. He wants TRUE hearts that are hungry for Him and that separate themselves from idols.

At this time of year, we celebrate Jesus’ birthday. So, where are HIS gifts? What are we doing FOR HIM? What are we giving Him? Are we giving Him our hearts; REAL hearts? Are we giving to OTHERS in His name? Where is our focus? Who or what is our joy? I pray that our joy would be Jesus and that our hearts will belong to Him. I pray that His love will thrill us and fill us as we remember that everything really is all about Him.

In closing, I would like to invite all of you who live in my area to help give back and have the chance to give from your hearts by giving your time. My friend, Jama, works for the Salvation Army, and she has asked for volunteers to help sort toys, etc. Myself, and a few of my friends, will be in Fort Wayne on December 13th in order to help. So, if any of you would like more information, please send me a message and I will give you the specific details so that you can join us in helping out and giving back! Though, even if you can’t volunteer, I hope that maybe you could help out by donating items or funds to the Salvation Army. The most heartbreaking thing that Jama has to do is deny applications for help because they are simply overwhelmed with requests right now and are having a hard time meeting the demands that they currently have!! Please donate if you can (I know, the economy is tough for everyone right now). The need is greater than ever!!

God bless all of you!! I pray that the grace and peace of God will be with you as you enjoy the celebration of Christ’s birth!!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Unloading The Bus

In the previous blog, judgment was talked about. Now, it’s time to focus on mercy and forgiveness. (Ahhhhh, much better!!).

Beth Moore uses the parable of the unmerciful servant in order to address the topic of forgiveness. Of course, we all probably know the story (which is found in Matthew 18:15-35). A servant was forgiven a tremendous debt that he couldn’t pay (which would equal millions of dollars in today’s currency). The king had mercy on him and forgave the debt. Yet, the servant went out and found a fellow servant that only owed him a few dollars and demanded payment. He refused to have mercy and patience with him; even though his plea was identical to his own plea that had just been honored by the king. He had the servant imprisoned, but also ended up being imprisoned as well (and tortured) when the king heard of his merciless behavior!

Beth Moore says about the parable: “The parable of the merciless servant is about forgiveness…a forgiveness prompted by patience, and a patience perfected by mercy. If we neglect the necessity of forgiveness, we fail to complete the portrait of biblical patience. Patience is the vessel through which God pours His mercy. Mercy is fueled by forgiveness.”

So, WHAT exactly is forgiveness? Beth explains it well: “The Greek word most often used in the New Testament for forgive is aphiemi. It means ‘to let go from one’s power, possession, to let go free, let escape.’ In essence, the intent of biblical forgiveness is to cut someone loose. The word picture drawn by the Greek terms for unforgiveness is one in which the ‘unforgiven’ is roped to the back of the unforgiving. How ironic. Unforgiveness is the means by which we securely bind ourselves to that which we hate most. Therefore, the Greek meaning of forgiveness might best be demonstrated as the practice of cutting loose the person roped to your back.”

Can you imagine “cutting loose” whatever person (or persons) are tied to your back? My gosh, why wouldn’t you want to?! That gets awfully burdensome and heavy!! Why hold onto that which you detest? How much sense does that make to torture yourself? Cutting loose will benefit YOU more than it benefits them!

Jesus tells us to forgive EVERYONE (Luke 11:4). And, in Mark 11:25, He reminds us to forgive others so God can forgive us. Yes, it’s difficult and sometimes even painful, but it’s a must if we expect to receive any mercy for ourselves (and also to set ourselves free).

Of course, there are those that have been offended greatly and for them, forgiveness is virtually unthinkable! Beth reminds us that “God desires to pour His patience through those with every right to avenge…every right to be merciless…every right to be angry and bitter…those to whom perhaps no earthly mercy has ever been shown.” Even in your “right” to be mad or vengeful, God wants to work out His patience, mercy, and forgiveness through you! “God wants to reveal Himself in us--not our rights or weaknesses.”

Maybe that’s not convincing enough for some. There are many offenses that just seem too monumental to forgive. However, Beth talks about several reasons why it’s so important to let go and forgive. We know that God COMMANDS it (and for good reason!). God wouldn’t issue a command if it weren’t for our benefit; after all, it’s His will that everything work out for good (Romans 8:28).

I like how Beth beautifully illustrates just how burdensome it is to carry unforgiveness in our hearts: “Frankly, it's difficult to live an effective Christian life with a body roped to your back. Can you imagine how many of us are walking around roped to a corpse? Some of us are harboring unforgiveness against someone who has long been in the grave. Is there anything heavier than 'dead weight'? Well, as a matter of fact, there is: a group roped to your back. Unforgiveness is extremely habit forming. Unchecked, it spreads from on person to another. Before you know it, you have a school-bus load of people roped to your back! You cannot be free to keep step with the Spirit when you are encumbered by the load of unforgiveness.”

Well said!! She also states that “the one who will not forgive always suffers more than the one not forgiven.” As in the case of the parable of the servants, both were imprisoned, but the merciless one was the servant that was tortured. To illustrate the point further, Beth tells of her own experience (which brought tears to my eyes): “After suffering a serious degree of childhood trauma, God continually confronted me to forgive my perpetrator. I refused for many years. Would you like to know why? I was absolutely certain that my forgiveness would ‘make it all right,’ and it wasn’t all right. I feared that if I forgave, he would be off the hook. I had suffered painful repercussions. I didn’t realize that my failure to forgive was causing me more pain than the original offense.”

I imagine that is how a lot of us feel. We feel the person needs punished and that if we forgive, that will be like excusing the behavior. But, that is not so! Beth said: “Finally, God wore me down until I was forced to listen to His gentle whisper to my heart. ‘Beth forgiving won’t make the offense all right; it will make YOU all right.’ He demanded that I forgive for my own sake…so that I would not be tortured by it for the rest of my life!” She said that once she forgave, it was the “most wonderful thing” that God ever gave her the ability to do! She says: “I am free. Not free from all memories-but free from all torture. Yes, He is faithful.”

Beth also reminds us that we must forgive so that Satan won’t have the opportunity to take advantage of us. “Few things exist in life that Stan can take advantage of more effectively than unforgiveness” she said. Just think of how he uses that one thing to spark a whole chain of events! He builds on that foundation to create more problems, rage, bitterness, the whole works!! Who wants or needs that?!

Beth further elaborates by affirming the fact that Satan will stop at nothing to rob God’s presence from us by using that unforgiveness to wedge itself between us and our heavenly Father. “He knows that it is impossible to be filled with the Spirit and filled with unforgiveness. Only Satan wins in the war of unforgiveness. When he sees a rope, he sees an opportunity to hang us.”

Finally, Beth says: “We must forgive because we are not the only ones bound by the rope of unforgiveness. If we refuse to forgive, we tie God’s mighty hands from ‘working all things together for good.’ He will not bring personal good to you from your pain if you do not release Him through your forgiveness. Why? Read Romans 8:28. This verse applies to those who love Him enough to be called according to His purpose. Christ has a purpose in the pain you’ve suffered or He never would have allowed it. Until you surrender to His purpose in the specific matter at hand, He cannot work it for your good. Do you know what that means? It all happened in vain--for absolutely nothing.”

In this fallen world, offenses and wrongs are a certainty. We are going to be offenders as well as the ones who get offended. There is trouble, pain, and all sorts of turmoil because of the sin nature in us all. Though, God’s promise is that He will use all of that for good if we will allow it. If not, we will have suffered for nothing if we remain bitter and cling to our pain. However, if we cut the cords, empty our bus-loads of people we need to “cut loose”, and allow God to heal us, He will be able to make the most of our misery and turn it into a ministry!!

I hope that these two blogs have been helpful to someone out there. It is a powerful subject matter, which is why I felt compelled to share it. If you need further help in learning to forgive, letting go of judgments, etc. PLEASE read “The Shack” by William P. Young. It’s one of the most helpful, inspiring, and powerful books you will ever read!!

Grace and peace to all of you!! May we all be blessed with patient, merciful, and forgiving hearts!! Amen!

Forsaking Our Judgment Robe

As many of you know, I have been involved in the Beth Moore Bible study “Living Beyond Yourself” which examines the fruit of the Spirit. Periodically, I have been sharing bits and pieces of it (though I wish I could share the whole thing! I encourage you to do this study for yourself because there is so much to it!).

I’ve decided to share some more of the study because this particular section that I am reading is something I think we all could stand to examine and get clarification on! I’m talking about the fruit “patience.“

While going into depth about this fruit, Beth talks about judging, condemning, and how to forgive. Does that seem like a strange link? One doesn’t really think of judgment when the word “patience” comes to mind right? Well, as Beth points out, where judgment exists, impatience abounds!! She said that judgment is the very opposite of patience. To BE patient is to DELAY judgment; just like God does with us. Because of His mercy and love, He is patient with us and delays punishment because He wishes to give us all a chance to repent and do the right thing. Patience cannot exist without mercy.

Here are the reasons why we shouldn’t judge; according to the Bible and as outlined by Beth Moore:

SCRIPTURES: Romans 2:1-5, Matthew 7:1-5, James 4:11-12, John 8:14-18

REASONS NOT TO JUDGE:

1. When we judge others, we cause God to be harder on us
2. We do many of the same things we condemn in others.
3. We do not know the whole truth.
4. We are mere humans.
5. When we judge others, we are judging God.
6. God’s judgment is always righteous. Ours is tainted by the flesh.
7. We risk application of the same type of judgment to ourselves.
8. We cannot judge the speck of sawdust in another’s eye because of the planks in our own.
9. “There is only one lawgiver and judge”
10. Only God has noble purpose in His judgment.
11. Just like Christ’s, our judgment would have to be completely consistent with God’s He must agree with us for our judgment to be valid.


To elaborate, I will state some of the things that she said for each reason. Reason one being that when we judge others, we only condemn ourselves and invite the Lord’s discipline.

For reason two, she gives this perfect example: “…we are quick to judge sexual sin; yet few of us have not transgressed in at least some area of sexual sin. If not physically, mentally. We often sit on the judgment seat as if to determine and compare degrees of sin. Judgment bears hypocrisy.”

Next, she points out the fact that God bases His judgments on truth. We as humans don’t always do that. Often, we have incomplete facts because we don’t see the whole situation. Even more so because of the fact that we cannot read minds or hearts like God can.

That goes in conjunction with reason four which states that we are merely human. She uses the verse from Isaiah 29:16 which says: “You turn things upside down, as if the potter were thought to be like the clay! Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, ‘He did not make me‘? Can the pot say of the potter, ‘He knows nothing‘?” Beth said, “We must withstand all temptation to assume God’s job!”

Furthermore, in reason five, we are judging GOD by judging others! How? Beth explains this perfectly: “Our judgment reveals contempt for the riches of God’s patience (Romans 2:4). To judge why God won’t bring a speedy punishment to those who mock or despise Him is not our responsibility. To all of us, His long-suffering has been our salvation. Eternity is a long time; the effects are irreversible. God desires to give every chance for the sinner to say ‘yes.’ I once heard Dr. Adrian Rogers say, ‘Time is not nearly as important to God as timing.’”

Reason six reminds us that while God’s judgments are consistently and always righteous, ours are tainted by the flesh. They are “colored by our attitudes, our pasts, our personalities, and our positions. Only God is the perfectly righteous Judge.”

In point seven, we see the danger of judging as applied to ourselves. What we measure out will be measured back! Forget the “Karma” crap! I absolutely detest it when people talk about “Karma” because God is the one who instituted the concept of reaping what you sow (Galatians 6:7). We need to treat others the way we want to be treated and love others as ourselves (Matthew 22:39). If we just go around judging instead of loving, then expect that which you dish out!

Next, of course, we have the infamous “plank in your eye” point. Beth says: “We can’t judge righteously because our sight is hindered by our own sin.” How can anyone with a sin nature judge correctly? It’s impossible! And, since we all have a sin nature and no one is perfect or righteous (Romans 3:10) no one can accurately and righteously judge!

Reasons nine and ten affirm that God is the only judge! “There’s simply no room on the bench!” You can’t sit beside Him and help Him do His job! Besides, what is our real intent in judging compared to God’s? Beth says: “We judge to make ourselves feel righteous in comparison. Whether or not the thought is conscious, most judgments boil down to this justification: ‘At least I don’t do that!’ God’s judgment is not based on His ‘ego.’ It is a practical action by which He determines the fate of all humanity.”

And finally, Beth explains reason eleven this way: “We judge by ‘human standards’ (John 8:15) and, therefore, possess little heavenly perspective. To make a valid judgment, the second testimony cannot by our best friend or neighbor…it must be God.”

In conclusion, Beth reminds us that it’s “easier to be clay than the potter.” Judgment isn’t our job, and would be one we are grossly under-qualified for if we had the job! Judgment isn’t a kind thing to do or to have done to you, so why participate in it? We need to show the same kindness, mercy, and forgiveness for others as God has displayed towards us. “If He is patient with us and He has no sin, how patient must we be toward others with whom we share the same sin? Judgment strangles patience and grieves the Holy Spirit.”

Now that I have shared about judgment, feel free to read the next blog that I will post which deals with mercy and forgiveness. Judgmental behavior can be overcome!! Grace and peace to all of you!!

Benchmarks

In my last blog, I talked about Scott’s sermon on God’s love. Towards the end, I mentioned how he encouraged us to set a “benchmark.“ Where will we be in our walks with God in a year or more from now? Personally, I pray that I can only go “up” from here! Though, growth can be painful and unpleasant (as I have found out more than ever this year) but it’s worth it!! As Kent always says: “Feel the heat, face the fire, find the gold!”

Recently, I was privileged to see evidence of my growth as I read a particular e-mail. Oddly enough, it was an e-mail from myself!! This particular e-mail was a result of a project Yahoo had had; it was a “time capsule” thing. You could compose an e-mail to yourself and they would save it and deliver it to you in a few years. Well, I had been thinking about that e-mail recently, and wondered when I might be receiving it. Though, I couldn’t remember what I wrote or what year it was supposed to be delivered. Then, wouldn’t you know, it happened!! Here is the note I wrote to myself in 2005:

Dear Self,

You wrote this message to yourself in 2005. At that time, Casey was 2 and a half and Gianna was almost 2 months old. Oh how time flies!!

What have you done since then? Have you finished your book yet? That is the main thing you should have been doing. If it isn't finished by now and on its way to print, WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU??? GET R DONE!!!

You should be very proud of your accomplishments, assuming you have any. Live for God and not yourself and enjoy life!!

Sincerely,

Yourself


You know, I never expected a letter from myself to have such an impact!! LOL You want to know why? It’s because of the fact I can see who I was then and who I am now. I was always consumed with the idea of having to finish a book that I felt that God wanted me to write (which I have started and have been working on here and there for years). I had set a sort of “time table” for myself when I wrote that. Though, I often forget that God’s timing isn’t my own! I also didn’t realize how time-consuming motherhood would be with two little ones, or all the other God given tasks that would come into play over the past three years.

The thing that struck me most was when I read the accusing judgments that I had written to myself. “What is wrong with you?” and remarks that inflicted doubt as to whether I would have any accomplishments to be proud of (as if parenting two children wasn’t an accomplishment in itself!). I was a little stung by my own words, and was amazed to see how nasty I used to be not too long ago! How could I have used words like that to myself when I wouldn’t even say something like that to a friend? If I wouldn’t utter them to someone I loved, why should I be using them on myself? We’re supposed to love others as we do ourselves (Matthew 22:39) aren‘t we? Yet, for a long time, I didn’t love myself very much because I didn’t know my true worth. I used to be extremely harsh on myself and I had a very narrow minded view of success (among other things). Thankfully, however, I have learned to treat myself with the same kind of kindness and acceptance as I do to others. I’m a loved and accepted child of God, and I don’t need to be accepting judgment and condemnation from Satan, or other people (including myself!). So, yes….I DO have accomplishments to be proud of!! I may not have finished and printed a book, but I have come a long way spiritually in three years! Three years ago, I wouldn’t have recognized that rude, criticizing, and judgmental spirit in me. It was “fact” and I accepted it. Though, when I read that TODAY, I just want to say, “Hey! You can’t talk to yourself like that! It’s not nice and it’s not true!” I just wanted to rebuke myself!! LOL

The one good thing that I did write to myself was this line (which REALLY woke me up!): “Live for God and not yourself and enjoy life!!” HOW TRUE IS THAT?! If I am living for GOD and not myself, I WILL enjoy life! I can’t truly enjoy life if I’m am inward focused. Yes, it is great that I have learned to love and accept myself, but that can be a delicate boundary too. Also within the past three years, I have lost weight and have been working on my physical health as well as the spiritual. It has had its benefits, but also its drawbacks. As much as I love dropping the extra pounds that weigh me down, it’s hard to get used to all those changes. One of them being the attention. Sometimes, I feel as though people just see the “outer beauty” before the “inner beauty”. I just want the entire me to be seen and valued. I don’t just want to be another “pretty face.” And, I don’t want to become vain either. Blessings can sometimes be a double-edged sword.

Other people have noticed positive changes in me as well. I get feedback from people (online and offline) about the growth that they have seen, and that is such valuable and positive encouragement/affirmation to me! It only helps to spur me onward to continuing growth as I strive to work on my weaker areas that I have yet to mature in (still working on food issues, self-discipline, prayer, and so much more!).

In the upcoming months and years, I hope to be at a healthy weight and have a greater respect for my body and for food. I hope to rely on God for all my needs and not replace Him with food, people, or things. Hopefully, this will be a blog I will look back on in a few years and say, “Yes, I do have even more accomplishments to be proud of!”

I am also proud of the fact that so many of you are such good friends of mine and that you are so kind and supportive of me! So, to all those that adhere to and practice 1 Thessalonians 5:11 and Hebrews 10:25, I THANK YOU FROM THE DEPTHS OF MY HEART!! I am thankful for you all and I enjoy fellowshipping with you and ministering to each other through blogging, e-mail, etc.!!

May the grace and peace of God be with you all as you strive for your own benchmarks (and you don‘t have to wait until New Year‘s to start setting goals)!! God bless you!!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Boundless Love

Last Sunday, Scott Kaehr preached the message. Scott is the husband of our church counselor, and also a mentor to Chad. Chad had been wanting him to preach a message for some time, because he really felt like he had an awesome message to share (and indeed he did!).

Scott talked about the love of God. As cliché as that would seem for a sermon, it's not really cliché at all when you think about it. After all, does hearing about God's love ever get old? Does it ever lose its power? Is the message of God's love ever something that we should get tired of? God's love is so glorious, boundless, and multi-faceted! The more we hear about it, the more we understand. Though, I'm sure we won't fully grasp the depth and wonder of it until we get to heaven!! It's just SO BIG!! Like the Chris Tomlin song says, it's "Indescribable" !! 

This is one thing that is just so hard to put into words! The love of God sometimes just renders me speechless (and it's one of the few things that can! LOL). So, I don't know if I will even have much to say other than a few of the hard-hitting aspects of Scott's message. One being that God is a God who loves us, pursues us, and created us so that we could have a deep, personal, and intimate relationship with Him. In fact, His love is so pure and true that He even gives us the freedom to CHOOSE to love Him. He didn't just make us to be robotic people and demand our worship and fellowship. A relationship is nothing if it's not genuine. 

As if that weren't enough, God just kept on loving us even when we chose sin and independence and rejected Him. In the garden of Eden, and since then, so many of us have chosen to live our lives without Him; though His love remains. He loves us anyways; even if we don't love Him back!! How awesome is that! It's easy to love the ones that love you back, but to love those that don't….WOW!! 

His ultimate proof of love was demonstrated by sending His son to die for our sins; even if we couldn't care a lick about that generous gift. Isn't it amazing that even after displaying such love and mercy, we could STILL spit in His face? Yet, some of us do, but He STILL loves us!! Period!! AMAZING!! 

Do you have that fellowship with Him? If you haven't, you CAN! Or, if your fellowship has been broken, you can return! No matter what the case, you can make that "U Turn". You can repent, turn you back on all the things that pull you away from His presence, and turn to Him. His offer is always there: "Come!" He lays out the beautiful banquet table for you and offers you to come and fellowship with Him and indulge in all the wonderful things that He has to offer you. We can lay everything else down; our ways, our burdens, our heavy weights around our necks. We can "yoke up with Jesus" (as Scott put it) and He will carry those things that we needn't be carrying anyways. He will lift us up and out of all that drags us down, and replace it with good things that will enrich our lives. He will fill us with the fruit of His Spirit and our cup will overflow! 

Scott encouraged us to have a "bench mark" day. He said he had a time not that long ago that he had strayed away, but that looking back, he can see how far he has come. Our faith should be like that. We should be able to look back a year from now and say that we are stronger in our faith than we were before. We should be able to look back on our journey and relish the joy that we are even closer to God than we were before! It's kind of like a joke Mitch and I always say (which we heard from a comedian). The joke is this: "Did you know it was a year ago today?" Did you get it? LOL It most definitely WAS a year ago today! It's a year ago, a month ago, a week ago, etc. every day! What has happened in that passage of time? What will your bench mark be? 

May the wonderful love of God bring peace and joy into your heart today - and every day!! Grace and peace to all of you as you bask in the simple but profound truth that "God made you special, and He loves you very much!" (Yes, I borrowed that from "Veggie Tales"!).