Wednesday, August 31, 2011

AHH, The Heat

Seems like lately all people are talking about around here is the heat. It’s so hot all the time. There’s never a let up. The cool part of our day would normally be the high.

Sunshine and warmth are known for bringing good moods. But I’m here to tell you that what I see happening is shorter tempers from the relentless heat and discouragement from the lack of rain and cool breezes. Makes you wonder if this is just a taste of what Jesus meant in Matthew 8 or Revelations 16.

There is an old saying: if the heat’s too hot get out of the kitchen. There’s another saying: if the heat’s too hot stay put and fight the heat.

The first saying has always stumped me since I first heard it as an adult. My first thought was ‘what in the world does that mean?’ How does one know it’s too hot for you anyway - just because I don’t like it doesn’t mean it’s so unbearable I should leave. And, what does leaving prove?

If leaving was the answer I never would have stayed on in nursing. My first job alone would have done me in. My first year of marriage would not have led to 26 years of marriage, and still going. There are so many other examples I could name.

Nothing is perfect. But everything is worth fighting for. Fighting for a change...for improvement...for results.

Perhaps it is the Irish, or Scottish, or French, or Spaniard, or Indian in me that doesn’t mind a fight. I like and understand the second saying. My mom shared it with me the other day after reading it in her devotional booklet, The Daily Bread.

I have also found that sometimes what we feel is too much heat is actually there for a purpose. To show us what we can do. To show us we do have strength. To give us compassion. To prepare us for the next fire.

With God as our lead, He will use all things for His good, for His purpose.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Pharisees Again

Two weeks ago I wrote about Pharisees. Guess what the sermon was about this past weekend? I have to wonder, what message is God trying to get out?

The Sunday message included video clips of 'Christians' who instead of radiating God's love were shown as rule givers, lacking in compassion for victims while blaming illnesses and tragedies on the sins of the people affected. Their faces were filled with anger and sour expressions as they made their point. No sorrow was shown. No mercy. Like it or not the world sees the church as being represented by these people.

It all begs the question, 'Where's the love?' Jesus was asked about the greatest commandment in Mark 12:28-31. His reply hasn't changed. We're still to love the Lord our God completely, which means, as my mom love from your guts. But we're also to love others, even our enemies. (Matthew 5:43-48)

You know, I didn't realize how much I loved myself in a self-centered way until God began asking me to do things that showed love to others. It's been a slow still-on-going process for me. It is a struggle to love the unlovable but I try. We each need to try, to the best of our ability. I admit it brings me relief knowing I don't have to be perfect, I just have to try.

In closing today, I would like to quote from Akiane, her life, her art, her poetry. The last paragraph states, "Akiane is convinced that the greatest gift we could give to God, who has everything and does not need anything except our love, is for us to love one another and walk in faith, day by day, hour by hour."

What a statement! Written that way, it was an 'I-get-it' moment for me. And, I will try everyday to remember that what I need to do is love God and love those He brings across my path.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


Flipping through Proverbs 29 my eyes fell on verse 11. Basically it says those venting their anger or feelings completely are considered foolish - OUCH!

Initially I pictured someone red in the face, spewing curse words, speaking normal words with so much anger that it changes their impact. But, not everyone blows up like that. I know I don't.

How many times have I heard, have I said...I just need to unload; I just need to vent; I just need to get it out of my system. The truth of the matter is that the more I talk about it to family or friends, the more it sticks as a memory and the more I dwell on it, thus causing me to talk about it some more. Yet, I know I need to get it out of the memory banks of my mind. So, what am I to do?

The rest of the verse speaks about holding back or keeping it to yourself. How do I do both?

Well, Jesus is my confidant and my friend. Not only is He the One to whom I must confess my sins, but, also, He's the one to whom I need to confess my feelings and anger. He understands me better than I understand myself. He can help me get it out of my system and begin the walk to forgiveness.

I just need to remember to go to Him to complain, gripe, vent, unload, the list goes on. But I must leave it there and as far as anyone is concerned keep it to myself. That is my next step to wisdom.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

To Pharisee or Not

While researching Biblical times I was struck with some awful similarities between pharisees and some modern day believers.
I knew the pharisees had all kinds of laws to help regulate the right and wrong of activities --upwards of 600 in fact. But the one that stood out was the interpretation of a Sabbath’s day walk, which it turns out was only about 1/2 mile. Can’t get too far with that hanging over your head! The odd thing is they expected everyone to follow all these rules and were highly critical of those who didn’t.
As I pondered this I was struck by the number of times in my past I looked down on people who did not attend church weekly; even belonging to a church whose active participants felt that all should be there whenever the doors were open.
Ouch! That’s hard to do even for someone who wants to be there. I must admit, I tossed the concept around in my head...until I went to visit my Grandma Elsie.
Often in our conversations I was perplexed why she refused to go to church, always finding various reasons why she couldn’t attend services. Then we went to visit her and my eyes were opened.
She lovingly accompanied us to church but explained she would have to sit in the back row. The back row held extra cushions, and afforded her the opportunity to get up and stretch her legs whenever sitting became too difficult, which she did...more than once during the sermon alone.
Ouch, again! What was I thinking - putting pressure on other people for not tolerating long services nor attending regularly. Who was I to judge why someone wasn’t there at church? Who was I to think that excuses for not attending were flimsy? Did I think of myself as better than so many others?
I now see I was no better than those Pharisees. During that time I was more of a pharisee-Christian than a Jesus-copying-Christian. Ouch again...not a pleasant analogy.
I goofed big time. I have confessed. I have been forgiven. And, now, I try to walk a little less condemning in that area especially.
One thing I have learned...what God lays down for me to follow and practice may not be what He has shown someone else. But, to him who much is given, much is expected...even if it is just knowledge. Luke 12:48

Have a great week!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

God’s call to write a book has brought me to a place of challenge and blessings. The enormity of God’s request can be overwhelming for me, to a point of feeling defeated. A while back, as I wallowed in this struggle I attempted to distract myself by watching the movie, Evan Almighty. What I discovered was a revelation, a blessing filled with reassurance.
Just like Noah, God called Evan to build an ark – he was a newsman-made-politician for Pete’s sake. And, just like Noah...what did he know about building an ark?
Of course, in the movie, God supplied the materials and a book of instructions. Evan had to deal with criticism from his family, friends, and co-workers. But he persevered and eventually built the ark with the help of his family.
As I think about Noah, I realized he most likely had an enormous amount of obstacles and an increase in ridicule to overcome, probably very similar to the ones Evan experienced. It had to be quite a challenge! Can you imagine Noah’s thought process when he realized just how big a boat God asked him to build? I’m sure the boats used at that point were small vessels.
So, do you think that was in his comfort zone? To build an enormous ark? Being asked to write a book has been a similar experience for me. It is definitely not in my comfort zone.
I figure it this way, if Noah can meet his challenge of HUGE boat building, then I can certainly continue in my book writing. And the next time I get a “you’ve-got-to-be-kidding” look from someone when I tell them I’m writing a book, I’m I hope I think of Noah and his ark.