Archive | April 2013

Gifted Receivers and Needy Givers

Yesterday I had lunch with my favorite niece.  Even though she and I do not see each other often because we both lead busy lives, each time we get together is a real joy.  We come away with excitement and thanksgiving to the Lord for our relationship and what God is doing in each of us.

We spoke of many things, but mostly it was about the family…hers, mine and ours, catching up on what we all have been doing.  It is wonderful to be a friend with a family member.

I have also been blessed to be the older woman in her life and have taught her the ways of the Lord. Our time of discipleship before her marriage was a three-year period in which God prepared her.  She is married and has six beautiful children.  What a blessing!

Our pastor chided the congregation yesterday that we must bring the good news to the market place.  I desire to do so, though being introverted by nature this is not an easy thing for me. However, yesterday at the restaurant I took the opportunity to do so.

My niece and I had a very attentive older woman wait on us and it seemed quite natural to speak to her about faith.  In keeping with what pastor said, I asked her some questions regarding her country of origin, which was Bangladesh, and a short conversation went on from there.

She and her husband came to America because a large company in New York employed her to sing, although she didn’t seem to want to talk about it further.  She told us that when 911 happened they became frightened and moved to our state to get away.

I wonder how many others ran away in fear of more terrorist attacks?  I was in New York a few days after the 911 attack and I talked with some that were intent on leaving.  In fact one lady had her car and her children packed up and was putting gas in her car to leave that day.  How far is far enough to avoid terror, anxiety or fear?

I asked our waitress what her religion was, she answered that she was Muslim, but that there were many religions in her country.  She emphasized that there was only one God over them all.  She loved to pray, she said, and she wanted us to understand that the terrorists do not represent Muslims.  She further stated that nowhere in the Quaran does it say that violence is acceptable.

I told her that we Christians do not believe that there is only one god or that our God is the same as theirs.  I told her that we believe that a person must be born-again, as the Bible says. We talked of Jesus and she told us that she believes he is a prophet.  I said we believe that He is the Son of God, the Savior of all who come to Him.

She then alluded to denominations in Christianity.  I explained a little to her, but she began to get nervous and ended the conversation.  I pray that she will come to know the one true God, the creator of Heaven and Earth and His Son, Jesus, for true peace can only be found in Him.

How many stories are there?  How many people who are scared and running from something?  How many wrapped up in a religion that, in the end, will not profit them?  And, all the while the truth can be known to anyone who will search it out.

God has not made people to be robots.  Each of us has been given a mind with which we think and examine concepts and ideas, this was a great risk on His part, because then we could choose to rebel against Him.  Many thousands of people have done just that.

In the devotional book, “Jesus Calling”, by Sarah Young, Page 116, the devotion for April 21st, Jesus says,  “Though My blood has fully redeemed you, your mind is the last bastion of rebellion.”  How true that is!

I heard this statement many years ago:  “You cannot keep the birds from flying over your head, but you can keep them from making a nest in your hair.”  We are responsible for what we allow to “bed down” in our mind.  Not every thought we think is from ourselves, not every thought is a God-thought, some thoughts are sourced from the enemy of our soul with the devious purpose to deceive us.  We must know who is speaking to us.

For years of my life I heard many voices.  I did not know any better than to listen to what I heard, after all it sounded like my voice.  Thank God for an older woman of God sent to help me.  For three years this dear saint taught me, disciplined me, trained me and prayed for me.  I would not be where I am today had that not happened.  I have taken great joy in passing this blessing on to others.

It matters what we hear, but it matters more what we entertain or meditate on, because thinking becomes actions and actions make character and character makes a life.  Life lived for self, will always end in disaster, does not fit the mold.  Each of us was created by God to be “Sons of God” and any other pattern will not work.  How often we accept the deviant as the norm, when nothing could be further from the truth.

Know this, dear reader, God loves you, you are each His special creation as it is recorded in Psalm 139 verses 13-16.  Verse 16 tells us that God watches over every conception and the growth of the child in the womb.  Their spirits come from Him who created them and sent them, this is why abortion hurts the heart of God.  Each child is a gift and He is wounded when those gifts are returned to Him.

Oh, if only we could or would see from His point of view!

My mentor told me that  “We are all gifted receivers and we are all needy givers.”  It took awhile before I could grasp the full meaning of this statement, but I have come to believe it.

Bottom line:  No human being, save one, is perfect.  We are all flawed because we are all sinners by the fall of our first parents in Eden.  We all sin and fall short of the mark of perfection, which is the holiness of God.

Thank God we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous!  To Him we can come with all of our short-comings and failures.  He stands in the gap between the judgment we deserve and the holiness we fall short of, He is our Savior, He is the bridge over which we can come to God and be accepted.

Thank God for Jesus!  Thank God for the cross, where He paid a price He did not owe because we owed a price we could not pay.

Blessings to you!

Joy

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An Old Tree

With quiet dignity the old olive tree stood.  Having survived the ravages of time, it was now very wide in girth, gnarly and knotty.  Several hundreds of years old, it stood in a garden called Gethsemane, its roots planted deep into the mountain soil where it lived.

If trees could talk they would tell of the times young lovers sat under their leafy boughs and spoke of the new life they soon would share.  The olive tree in Gethsemane would tell of the day a Nazarene entered the garden with His followers and of the passionate way He cried out for deliverance from what lay ahead.

Yes, if trees could talk, the tales they would tell of men, women and children, some who sought refuge beneath their shade in times of trouble, tales of others who gathered there to share food and fellowship.

In modern society, in the United States of America, age is not venerated.  That which is old is discarded.  The elderly are a bother and must be “dealt with” by the young…for this society highly prizes youth.

Everything in American society is geared to touch and reach the young, to the point that even the elderly, now called seniors, must appear young even though they are not.  When they are ready to rest in the twilight of their years, they must still be engaged in activity.  Do not the elderly desreve honor and respect for bearing the heat of the battle?  You know that I am speaking generally.

For a few years I have been noticing signs of aging in my physical body, at first it didn’t bother me, but of late I have begun to be more concerned about it.  Today I read something that brought tears.  Before I share it with you, I want you to know that I am approaching my 75th birthday.  It is incredible to me as I feel like I am 30…on the inside.

It is a shock when I look in the mirror.  In that regard, when I was a young woman my husband’s elderly Aunt shared an experience with me that she’d had the morning before, She told me that she looked into the mirror asked, “Who is that old lady looking at me?”  At that time, I laughed, now I understand.

It matters that you understand that I am not talking about the restrictions of sickness or disease, but rather what people call the natural, normal signs of aging such as wrinkles, thinning hair or lack of strength to do what you once did effortlessly.

I have gone many places in the world, even into my 60’s.  I have not lacked the physical ability to do what was required, so when I began to feel physical limitations, it was upsetting.  I began to complain.  For example, when I travel 10 hours on the train to see my children and come home from that journey, it is now taking me two days to regain my strength.  It doesn’t feel right and I don’t like it.  But, it has been the outward appearance of wrinkles on my face and thinning hair that really began to bother me.  Call me vain if you want this is how I have felt.

Somehow, these things have made me feel “less than”.  This could be because I was raised in the time when the “Star” system was in full swing in Hollywood, and the images portrayed by the movies and the lifestyle of the stars was the “norm”.  (This, of course, was a fantasy world where women were perfect in appearance and men would sweep them off their feet, marry them and they would live happily ever after.)  Now that I find my outward image changing, I have had increasingly emotional reactions to the changes.  Perhaps this has some bearing on it, though I believe there may be other reasons as well.

Faced with these changes in my physical body, knowing that time and change come to all, I have been trying to discern what is normal and what is not, and whether I should just roll with the changes or resist them; my morning devotional time brought light to the subject in the picture of an old tree.

Karen O’Connor, on page 1122 of “The Grandmother’s Bible”, by Zondervan Publishing House, states that she and her husband were walking through the Patriarch Forest in California, “stopping here and there to comment on the shape or color or texture of these amazing specimens that were the only survivors in this soil for thousands of years.”  She marveled that they were still standing in that barren place.

Karen goes on to say that these trees were not graceful like the willow or “tall and slender like a stately palm, but they were elegant in their own way.  The ravages of age and weather had given them a beauty impossible to describe.”  She continues to speak of how she had been “discounting” herself lately, “finding fault with the changes” in her body, when she suddenly had an insight that transformed her thinking.

“How is that that I could see beauty in the trees but not in myself?”, she asked.  “Why is getting older a good thing for a tree, but a bad thing for me”  Why do I look in the mirror and bemoan the wrinkles that line my face but see in the tree a quiet dignity that has nothing to do with shape or age?”

There it was.  A truth that brings light to the darkness.

Who makes the decision that something has value and something has not?  Who decides whether one person has value and another does not?

The answer is not another person, or society.  Each of us was created with “certain inalienable rights”, among which are the “right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”, according to the United States Constitution.

It is the Creator who determines appearance and value.  The creator, God, placed such a high value on human beings that He put in place a plan to redeem us from the sin that came upon all men as a result of the fall into sin in Eden.

That being said, we are human and our emotional makeup is such that we are subject to the world around us and to the message that it is continually sending our way…that we don’t measure up.

Is there not a “quiet dignity”, or should there not be, in a person who has lived long upon the earth?  Should we not revere and respect those who have weathered the ravages of time?  Again, I speak generally.

The phrase, “quiet dignity” stood out and my prayer became,  “Dear Lord, help me to regard this body I am living in with acceptance, without moaning about the ravages of time or complaining about the slowing down I am experiencing.  I ask that I might live and walk in the “quiet dignity” of these old trees.  It is in Jesus name that I ask this.  Amen!

I am joyfully His,

Joy