The top of the “Spirit-chain”

ID-10058017“What a nice group of people.”  The comment was made several times, and I had to agree.  Of course, they were all my relatives!  Two aunts, three cousins and spouses, my dear mother (in whose honor the hot dog roast was organized), my sister and her husband, two of our children and their families, and my dear husband.  So, what makes us so nice? 🙂

My husband wasn’t a pastor for very long before I realized that my extended family was not “normal.” My childhood was filled with memories of family get-togethers which included my no-nonsense grandmother and her children: five girls and one boy.  My mother was the youngest of the tribe.  We were always a close-knit family, but there were a few missing elements to these gatherings.  There was never any raucous music, alcohol, or pornography. We were God-fearing people.  All of my cousins grew up in the church.  Most were married in the church.  We learned our lessons and were fairly faithful.

Sad to say, that isn’t the case anymore; however, something stuck.  The principles which my grandparents taught to their children were passed on to the next generation—it was just what you did, and there is still the aura of Biblical truth whether we all attend church or not.  However…

What about the following generations?  How many of them attend church or even believe in God?  And what about my generation?  How many of us still hold to the truths we were taught as children?  I’m afraid that in some homes, something is missing?

Even though I’m so thankful for the heritage I have been given, I am even more thankful for the mercy of God upon my life!  Romans 9:15 says, For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. God had mercy on me!  He tugged at my heart as a child, and when I was hell-bent on ruining my life as a teen, He reached down and saved my soul!  And to top it all off, He led me to a young man whose life was also changed by the same true spirit of God.

Where are you in your walk with God?  Is He tugging at your heart or, perhaps like Paul, sending “pricks” which you are having a hard time kicking against? Maybe it’s that uncle who keeps mentioning God, a lot of times without ever saying a word! Or perhaps its that neighbor who keeps inviting you to church, or the blogger who keeps bringing up the subject of salvation; and every time you read or hear or watch, God touches your heart.  Why don’t you give it up and surrender to Him?

Maybe you are in the “ruining your life” stage.  That’s an awful place to be!  It starts out fun, but as the consequences of sin begin to pile up, the burden can be unbearable.  God meant it to be that way.  He wants you to give up and look up to Him!  Just take the plunge and drop dead!  Paul writes in Galatians 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

Or perhaps you’ve made it: You have surrendered your life to Jesus, asked Him to forgive your sins, and you are trusting Him to take you to heaven when you die.  Do you know what that means?  You are His child and you are on the top of the spirit-chain. You have the awesome privilege to live your life for Him!  You have the opportunity to be the spiritual spouse, parent, or grandparent.  You get the opportunity to live for Christ and pass the baton on to the generations which will follow you!

I know I quote it often, but one of my favorite verses is 3 John 1:4 I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth. I have that privilege and opportunity to pass the baton!  Oh, the joy of gathering with my children and grandchildren and seeing the love of the Lord in their lives—to watch as my sons train up their children in the Lord, and my daughters lead my grandchildren to know the Lord!  We all get along and love being together; in fact, next year, we hope to take a week and vacation together.  Our time will be sweet, and it will be centered around the Lord, not this world!  Praise God for what He can do, if we will just yield to His way!  Try it—the benefits are out of this world!

Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near:
Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts:
and let him return unto the LORD,
and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither,
but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud,
that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater:
So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth:
it shall not return unto me void,
but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.
Isaiah 55:6-11

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How many shades of gray are there in Christian Liberty?

How many shades of gray are there in Christian Liberty?

What do you do when you suddenly find yourself on the wrong side of the argument, arguing for something that just a few short years ago would have been anathema to you? And how did you get there?

Our society is changing so rapidlythat it makes my head spin, and I’m not talking about the world out there – I’m talking about the world within the walls of Christianity!

Every generation finds itself testing the bounds of limitations placed upon them by the preceding generation.  Every young person, at some time or another, will be challenged to defend or reject his or her beliefs.  Sometimes they may seem like small, inconsequential issues; however, those are the times when Song of Solomon 2:15 become a vivid reality:  it is “the little foxes, that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes.

More than ever the challenging argument: “but everyone is doing it,” comes into play.  Social ills that where not even considered a possibility of having a place in our Christian society are now flaunted all across Facebook, and the world is right there at our elbows cheering us on!

“Why you old fuddy-duddy,” the young person says.  “What business is it of yours  anyway?  I’m not hurting anyone!”

Oh, how wrong you are, dear one!

First of all, you are hurting yourself.  You are placing yourself in harm’s way – in the enemy’s camp. (That would be Satan!)

“Sin will always take you further than you wanted to go, and cost more than you wanted to pay.”

If only you could see where you may end up because of that attitude!

Second, it will hurt your future spouse and children.  Oh, the regrets that people carry with them all through life because of wrong choices – choices they will not change, often because of pride more than conviction.

Thirdly, it has hurt the ones you love the most: a parent, a grandparent, a friend – the one who gave you good council and you threw it to the wind!

Most of all, it hurts the One who died for you!  There is a constant challenge to balance the love of God and the holiness of God.  When either attribute is stretched out of proportion, there will be trouble.

If we over stress the holiness of God, life becomes tedious and difficult.  We start to feel more like slaves to a taskmaster than children of our heavenly Father.  However, when we over stress God’s wonderful love, we become lax in our walk, pulling down the protective walls of holiness; and in so doing, our actions pull down the image of God which we are to be displaying to this wicked world!

Instead of “screwing up our courage” to break out of God’s conforming image, life would be so much sweeter if we would surrender our wills to that of our heavenly Father, forsaking sin in all its shades of gray!

And parents, don’t hide behind the old adage: they’re just sewing their wild oats!  Why would you ever allow your loved ones to sew weeds of sin that will only choke the Word out of their lives, causing so much grief and pain?

I beseech you [urge you with every threat of my being!] therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God,
that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
And be not conformed to this world:
but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind,
that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
Romans 12:1,2

 

 

What happens when you don’t heed the warnings!

025Well, it finally happened – I looked down and noticed a stone missing from my ring.  I’ve been worried about the prongs; so I took it to several places and they all warned me that the prongs were in bad shape.  I looked at in under a very powerful magnifying glass and noticed that the one prong was pointing straight up.  No wonder it felt rough!  So, I pushed it back down – there!  No problem.  Not really.  That extra pushing and bending must have weakened it because not only is the prone gone, but the stone is gone as well!

Why didn’t I listen?  Because I thought I knew better!  I can take care of it and save money to boot!  I knew it would be expensive to get it fixed at the jewelers, but now it’s going to cost me even more!

I am writing this from the sponsor lounge at the Wilds Christian Camp in North Carolina and the spiritual applications are too numerous to share; however, as we listened to the speaker pouring out his heart last night to the teens about fighting the battles that they are facing and being a victor instead of a victim, I realized that I am a victim of my own making!  I knew what to do but didn’t do it because it would cost me too much!  How many of those teens know what they need to do but won’t do it because it will cost them too much: their friends, their pleasure, their comfort?

I’m thinking of a young man who came to this camp seven years ago.  He was in my son’s cabin, and because of how the Lord was directing our lives, our paths would often cross again over the years.  He heard all the warnings that these teens are hearing, but he did not heed them.  Now, seven years later, he has fathered three children to three different women.  His life is a mess.  God can still get hold of his life and change it, but the scars will be there for a lifetime! Sin will always cost more than we want to pay and take us further than we wanted to go.

As you read this, what warning signs are you ignoring?  Do you see them in your children – perhaps they are not going the way you would like for them to go.  Is it a bad habit that you know you should give up or a good habit that you know you should start?

“Do it now, don’t delay!

Don’t put it off for another day!

Go ahead begin it; right this very minute.  You’d better do it now!”

  (Thank you Ron Hamilton, Kidnapped on I-Land!)

 

If only I had done it sooner!  I’m thankful my SIN of procrastination only cost me a tiny stone!  How much greater the cost always is when we procrastinate in our spiritual walk!

 

 “Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.”

Acts 26:28

Birdie, Birdie in My Window

This morning, while my husband and I were praying in the living room, a loud bang at the window got our attention.  We looked at each other, wondering what it was.

“Do you think it was a bird,” I asked.  Tom went out onto the porch, and there lying on the ground was a little chickadee, very still.  I went to it and picked it up – he was still warm.  Poor little thing.  (No, I did not give it mouth-to-beak resuscitation, but I did get a towel and laid it up on the porch, just in case it wasn’t dead.)  Sad to say, he’s still lying there.

As I thought about that little bird’s life taken so suddenly, I couldn’t help but think about the brevity of life.  There are still plenty of birds at our feeder – all alive and active, but what happened to this little guy?  He was deceived.  He thought he was flying through empty space, but a plate of unseen glass stopped him short. He did not intend to die today!  He didn’t mean to fly into my window – HE JUST DIDN’T SEE IT!

During Sunday school this past week, my husband-pastor had us read this verse:  “Who can understand his errors?  cleanse thou me from secret faults.” (Psalm 19:12) He then asked, who knew about our secret faults.  In my mind, I thought what several others said: God and me.   He smiled that knowing smile and said, “No, only God knows.”  Wow!  That was an eye-opener for me!  We call those secret faults blind spots – the sins in our lives that we do not see.  If you are like me, I’m quick to SEE everyone else’s blind spots and proclaim that I am too spiritual to have any!

How often we are like that bird –

we don’t see the very thing that is going to kill us spiritually!

I’m convinced that the term “blind spot” is a bit of a misnomer for the Christian; for God tells us that He will show us the way. “Shew me thy ways, O LORD; teach me thy paths.” (Psalm 25:4) If we want to know our blind spots, God will reveal them to us.  IF WE WANT to know – that’s the defining factor.  This isn’t a half-hearted prayer where we don’t really expect to hear from God.  In fact, I’m convinced that most times, in the back recesses of our minds where we hide those sins  that we don’t want to face, we are able to see our blind spots.  What we don’t see are the far-reaching consequences stacking up ready to pour forth if we do not make the necessary changes.

If that little birdie would have just changed his course ever so slightly, he would have missed my window and could be sitting at my bird feeder right now instead of lying dead on my front porch!  I see so many lives on the brink of ruin only because that person or persons will not deal with sin!  Is it because they cannot change or will not?

Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil” (Jer. 13:23) …the answer?  NO, but by the grace of God!  Praise the Lord! He will give us the grace to choose and to change if we but ask!