Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Guest spot with Maria I. Morgan

This week I was able to share on my friend Maria's website. It's interesting to write for someone else. I pay much more attention to sentence structure and stuff (and try not to use words like "stuff").

While I am not personally the caregiver for a loved one with Dementia or Alzheimer's, I am surrounded with those who are, and have had the privilege to pray with and for them as they have shared their struggles.

Huge thanks to Maria for allowing me to share my heart on this difficult subject.

God Knows

Honor parents

It seems impossible that a loving God would allow our aging parents to spend the last years of their lives without memory of the life they’ve lived or the people they’ve loved. Yet He does… and we struggle. As dementia and diseases like Alzheimer’s take over, we say things like, “Dad’s fine. He doesn’t know what’s going on. I’m the one struggling.”
And it’s true, isn’t it? Once the disease takes hold, it’s the caregiver who struggles.

Continue reading here

Friday, May 20, 2016

Being a Good Christian

I don’t know what it’s like elsewhere, but here in the south, it seems that the deciding factor for being a “good Christian” is whether or not you attend church. The more often you attend church, the better Christian you are. Now, we all KNOW this isn’t true. Anyone can go to church. Even people who don’t love Jesus go, they  just don’t LIKE going to church…unless they have some other reason for going…but that’s a topic for another day. I will go ahead and throw this out…I don’t know any on-fire, growing, evangelical Christians who aren’t serious about attending church regularly. Again, a topic for another day.
So, here in the south, going to church – especially if you go more than once a week- gets huge points on the “how Christian are you” quiz. If that’s the standard to be judged by, my score is off the charts. I’m married to the pastor. I am LITERALLY at church all the time. Sunday morning, Sunday afternoon, Sunday night, Wednesday night, and any other time we have something to do there. I use my vacation to chaperone the youth trip. If this is the “how to be a good Christian” grading scale, I’m an absolute saint!
Except that I’m not. At all.
And I KNOW that I’m not, because scripture tells me what things characterize a Christian.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23 (ESV)
These are the things that tell off on the condition of a person’s heart. We can modify and control our behavior so that we LOOK like good Christians, but we can’t fake joy and we cant fake peace. We can’t control what comes out of our hearts and, if kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, patience, self-control, joy and peace aren’t in our hearts…well, that’s not what’s gonna come out.
So, when we inspect "fruit"…ESPECIALLY our own… let’s take the focus off of Church attendance. Instead let’s focus on the Fruit of the Spirit. Let’s ask God to grow and cultivate love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control in our hearts, so that these are the things that pour out of us.
I have been asking God for this in my life. I cannot imagine what a wonderful witness I could be for my precious Savior if my life were characterized by:

Monday, May 16, 2016

Answered Prayers

When we prayerfully ask for things that are in line with Scripture, God will give us what we ask for. Many times we think that God isn’t answering us, or even hearing us, but the truth is, sometimes what we ask for isn’t what we really want.
I constantly ask God to fill me with His love, mercy, and grace. I ask Him to cultivate the Fruit of the Spirit in me so that my life is characterized by Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-Control.
What I WANT is for God to miraculously transform my heart into something beautiful and pure, filled with joy and peace; a heart that is good, faithful, gentle, and kind, and emotions that are self-controlled. What He gives me, time and time again, are situations that require me to choose love, opportunities to choose to show grace.  I find myself in the midst of people and circumstances that try my patience and force me to choose whether or not to respond with kindness, gentleness, and goodness. I am tempted over and over again and forced to choose self-control over self-indulgence. And, little bit by little bit, God gives me what I asked for.
What are you asking God for? Are you missing out on God’s workings in your life because you are asking for the right thing, but wanting really wanting something else? If so, join me in prayer
Father God, I love you and I know many of the areas in my life where I need your help. I know the things I should ask you for. It’s hard Lord, to see beyond that I want to what your Word says you want for my life. Help me Lord to see where I am missing your workings in my life because I expect you to answer my prayers a certain way. Help me to look for your hand in my life and to see where you are working. Help me to become a more mature Christian who absolutely delights in YOU Lord. Help me to truly desire the things you want for my life Lord.
Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4 (ESV)

Friday, May 13, 2016

Wise Counsel


Please join me over at the Internet Café today!

In times when I’ve struggled with sin, I’ve had friends who would tell me what I wanted to hear (that I was right and/or justified in my behavior/feelings/desires).  Above all, they agreed with me and “took my side” (especially if I was in conflict with someone), and this made me feel better about my struggle, but offered no real help, and could, over time, cause catastrophic damage to my witness and my relationships.
But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. James 3:17 (ESV)
I’ve learned to go to women mature in their faith for advice. While they rarely tell me what I want to hear, they gently give me advice that offers real help, minimizing the damage caused by sin. Rather than justifying my behavior, they lovingly help me see my own sin. Their counsel is uncomfortable. It leaves me feeling raw, vulnerable, and ripped open, much like my poor lawn was ripped open for the new water line. Even so, heeding their counsel saves me from more extensive damage and points me back toward God.
Continue Reading  here


Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Standing up for my rights, Defending God, and what I learned from Daniel

Before I say anything else (because I know this is way long and most will give up before the end), I want to point out that Daniel was ORDERED to pray to King Darius (by penalty of DEATH).
Most things we are dealing with here in America are not situations where the government is LEGALLY ORDERING people to DO something, but are really more about people being OFFENDED because OTHER PEOPLE are being ALLOWED to do things that are offensive to them.
For example, Target is not legally ORDERING ladies to use the restroom with men, they ARE allowing men who identify as women to not have to use the restroom with men. Target has the right to make that choice. If it bothers me, I have the right to make the choice to shop somewhere else, and so do you... just as any Transgender person has the choice to only shop at Target because of all this. If this gets you all stirred up, please read all of this post before you comment.
Daniel Chapter 6... 
 The royal administrators, prefects, satraps, advisers and governors have all agreed that the king should issue an edict and enforce the decree that anyone who prays to any god or human being during the next thirty days, except to you, Your Majesty, shall be thrown into the lions’ den.  Now, Your Majesty, issue the decree and put it in writing so that it cannot be altered—in accordance with the law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be repealed.”  So King Darius put the decree in writing. Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before. Daniel 6: 7-10
Daniel went to his ROOM and PRAYED LIKE HE ALWAYS HAD.
·        First…he already did this.
o      Many church folks pray at dinner, at church and only open their Bible at church. That’s just the way it is. (That's a whole other post for another day.)
o   So it struck me that he did this JUST AS HE HAD DONE BEFORE. This wasn't something new for him.
·        Second…he did it in Private.
o   He didn’t go out in the street and pray so that everyone could see what a devout follower of God he was.
o   He didn’t wail and scream and protest
o   He certainly didn’t get all passive-aggressive on social media by posting things like “feeling persecuted” nor did he point out how much better he was than everyone who was praying to anyone other than God. He prayed and trusted God to do what God does.
·        Third…God did what God does, and lives were changed - (as always)
o   Daniel got caught praying … in private… in his home
o   Daniel was convicted of praying to someone other than the king and was sentenced to DEATH in the lion’s den
o   Daniel was NOT pardoned.
o   God protected him…in the lion’s den
o   Daniel survived the lion’s den, King Darius praised God, punished the ones who tricked him, and GOD got allllll the glory
o   you can read for yourself…
 Starting with Daniel 6:25…
Then King Darius wrote to all the nations and peoples of every language in all the earth:
“May you prosper greatly! “I issue a decree that in every part of my kingdom people must fear and reverence the God of Daniel.
“For He is the living God
    and He endures forever;
His kingdom will not be destroyed,
    His dominion will never end.
27 He rescues and He saves;
    He performs signs and wonders
    in the heavens and on the earth.
He has rescued Daniel
    from the power of the lions.”
It’s also worth mentioning that Daniel didn’t have a “God’s gonna get you for this” attitude when God delivered him.  See Daniel 6:21-22:
Daniel answered, “May the king live forever!  My God sent His angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, Your Majesty.”
·        Gosh, can we say that?
o   In all our protesting, discussing, and “standing up for our faith and our rights”, are we INNOCENT in GOD’s sight? (what's God say in 1 Samuel?? oh yes! But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7) I don't now about you, but my HEART is not innocent, even on my VERY best days!
o   ANNNNND can any of us say that we have done NO wrong before those who are “persecuting” us?
§  Not just can we say it, but is it TRUE?
I am encouraged on so many levels by this.
I don’t WANT to look like all those people who are screaming and yelling and protesting in the name of “defending their rights”. I understand their desire to defend themselves. I do.
But I believe that God’s got this.
I HOPE that my behavior will bring HIM glory like Daniel's did!