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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Coffee and Water

I was thinking this morning, on my way to work, about the daily struggle I endure between my cherished coffee and the ever healthy (yet ever tasteless) water. Stay with me here. So I love (LOVE) my coffee during work. It serves as not only a pick-me-up for that afternoon lull when I could put my head down and dream away right there on my desk, but also as sort of a warm, fuzzy blanket for my tummy. Yum! 
However, I also know that I need to be drinking more water. It's healthy, it's thirst-quenching, and just all-around good. So usually I come into work and go get myself a nice, hot cup of coffee and a nice, cold glass of water and figure on drinking them both throughout the day. I reason with myself that I can take a sip of coffee then a sip of water and so on. The only problem is that usually the coffee wins out and the water ends up sitting, untouched, on my desk and my body ends up missing out on the healthy benefits of the water.
This morning it got me to thinking about this verse where Jesus is telling the people that you cannot serve two masters. If you are going to follow Jesus, He has to be the most important. If you are trying to live your life for Jesus but also the things of the world, as He said, you will love the one and despise the other. It probably won't be intentional. And you may even do a good job of splitting your affections equally at first. But eventually, the things of the world (your coffee, your sweets, your bank account, your tv  shows...)will end up stealing all your attention. 
Now, I realize the decision whether to drink coffee or water is not a life altering decision and in light of eternity it is pretty minuscule. However, God showed me that this can be a metaphor for approaching our relationship with Jesus. Are we willing to put down the "tasty" thing in order to pick up that which is best for us? I began to wonder what other areas of my life I was willing to share my devotion with. Where else was I dividing my affections? 
If you're realizing, like me this morning, that you have been trying to serve two masters in any area of your life, you are not alone. I'm so thankful that we have a loving God who gives us verses and analogies such as coffee and water to show us where we are failing and lovingly point us back to the right direction. 
Father, I pray that you will help me see the areas in my life where I have been dividing my affection and attention and help me to give it all back to You to whom it rightfully belongs. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Why I Do Not Believe Abortion Is Ever The Answer

     With the upcoming election and political debates going on the past few weeks, there has been so much talk about the issue of abortion and I feel like I need to speak out about this topic. Yes, yes, I know everyone and their mother has an opinion on either this topic or some other politically charged issue but that is not where I am trying to go with this post. This is not a political post but a spiritual one. I have heard many arguments (and even gotten into a few myself) on why this practice should be allowed and I'd like the time and space to explain why I do not agree. (Facebook to me just seems too hostile of an environment already and I've already stuck my foot in my mouth more than once on there anyway!)

     ****Disclaimer!! Let me just say, first off, that just because I do not feel the same way as you about an issue does not mean I do not love you. A person can love another human without loving their beliefs.****

      Like I said, I've heard many reasons why people think a woman should have the right to decide if the life of her baby should continue or not. I'd have to say the argument of "my body, my choice" is the one that gets me the most. Let me just say first (with as much love as I can possibly express through my keyboard), that it is NOT your body. Yes, there is a teeny, tiny human body inside of your body but that does not mean you get to do whatever you see fit with it. This human, while dwelling inside of you, is completely separate from you. Separate heartbeat, separate DNA....totally different being. So no, I'm sorry but it is not "your body" (I am going to attempt to leave out any description of partial birth or late term abortion here because 1. WHEN the abortion is performed has no bearing in my mind of whether or not it is ok and 2. It only seems to lead to more anger and division which is far from my intent here.)

     Friend, let me just stop and appeal to you here. Not instruct harshly or even "just say" while looking down my nose at you. But let me simply and passionately implore you because I love God and I know He loves you and He instructs me to do the same. That baby? The one that the world says is an inconvenience or a hazard to your health or career or whatever? That baby was created by a loving God who loves you and loves that little body inside of yours.
     Psalm 139 says that God weaves us in our mothers' wombs, with great care and wonder. He loves and cherishes every single life that He breathes into existence. And no matter what situation you are facing that has you thinking you have no other way out, I promise you - no, God promises you - He will never leave you. Deuteronomy 31:8 says just that. He will go before you, marching headlong in full battle gear into whatever sticky, messy or downright horrid situation you are facing. We never ever need to be afraid or feel like we have no other way out.

     Some would say "Well, what if a woman is raped?" Well, I have never been forcibly raped and I cannot begin to comprehend the magnitude of this atrocity against a person's body. But I have been taken advantage of before in vulnerable situations and I know that that in particular is even extremely hard to deal with. So, while I do not understand the effects rape, I do understand the feeling of having something stolen from you that you can never get back. Awful, tragic, and lasting are words that do not begin to describe the effects.

     And yet...I still stand firm on my belief that even in this tragic situation God would not want you to snuff out that tiny life. Here's why, friend. Once a woman has gone through that, it is there and there are no take backs on that kind of hurt. There will be years (and quite possibly a lifetime) of Skele-Gro type healing. (Skele-gro...think Harry Potter) But aborting the resulting pregnancy is not going to change what happened. In fact, I truly believe it would only add to the heartache, confusion, and pain.

    Some would say "How can I live with a walking, breathing reminder of the stealing of part of my soul around??" I get it. I truly do. Add to that the complexity and utter confusion of knowing that, in all natural terms, you are actually supposed to be loving this child with an unconditional love but mostly wanting to never look at them again?? I imagine the division of your mind and heart would be something likened to utter madness. Still...the bible also says that children are a gift from the Lord. What if, just what if, this child is a gift of healing? To help the mother by offering that unconditional love as children do best. Just what if out of the dark evil is born pure light-filled innocence? I'm not saying it would be easy but what if you tried? Worse....what if you didn't try?

    And still... there are other ways. There are many desperate, would-be parents in the world unable to conceive. The child could be given to loving parents and he (or she) would never even have to know the circumstances surrounding their birth. Yes, the pregnancy would be incredibly hard but, for me, the good that would come out of it would be at least a tiny bit of salve for my gaping wound.

     Paul said in his letter to the Roman church, "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." Yes, yes a million times yes, we should have the utmost compassion and tenderness with a woman who has experienced a rape but I do not for one second believe ending the life of the fetus inside her will help to ease her pain in any way. And, at the risk of sounding harsh, your pain does not give you the right to take a life. No matter who it is or how it came to be. The bible says in Deuteronomy 32:39 that He is the One who gives life and takes it away. It is His responsibility and right and His alone. The same goes for the woman whose health is in danger. Please friend, trust in God. He is near to the broken hearted and He will be with you!

    I am not saying, by any means, that if a woman is facing a rape or an unplanned pregnancy or health crisis that it should be a cut and dry, super easy decision for her. We are human beings for heaven's sake! We feel and bleed and hurt and love and every situation we experience changes and shapes us in innumerable different ways. I'm not saying it should be easy. But I am saying it should be painfully thoughtful and we should wrestle with it in prayer until we are too exhausted to stand on our own! I also think, as the church, we need to be coming alongside of these women and wrestling with them and just being a strong presence of support and deep caring. We are, after all, the hands and feet of Jesus. But I stand firm that I do not believe abortion is ever an acceptable option. Hard does not equal impossible. 

     And, because I feel like when people hear the words pro-life they get this image of a bible-wielding, red-faced, crazy-haired preacher on a mission I just have to inject this here: please know I am not at all judging you for your beliefs or even if you have already made this decision and acted on it (see: disclaimer!). I have committed a multitude of sins in my own life. And yes, He is a God of love and mercy and He is always ready to forgive us if we will only ask Him. But just because He is a God of mercy and forgiveness does not mean we should commit a sin just because we know He will forgive. Would you break your earthly Father's heart by running away from home just because you knew he'd take you back? 

     Let me just close with this final thought. I do not believe abortion is ever a viable option because it states in big bold black letters THERE IS NO HOPE. It sadly snuffs out the life because it believes that life has no value, no chance of being great, no possible way of bringing joy to other lives already existing. It says that God has failed and I know that my God NEVER fails. With God, there is always hope. Always possibility. Our God is the God of hope and I know if you are facing an impossible situation He can help you turn it into possible.

     In the end, after all the arguments and semantics have played out and the political debates have ended, it really boils down to this: God is the One who gave us life. He is the One who has the full right and responsibility to say who lives and who dies. It is not our right to take that away from Him. And if you are a woman in trouble and not sure where to turn I beg you to talk to someone. Heck, talk to me if you need to! I pray that this post does not hurt anyone who is already hurting with this type of situation. But as for the risk of sounding harsh it is not me you are offended at it is God. (But He still loves you...and so do I!)

Peace and grace to you!! 


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

When The Fire Burns Low

"But the Lord sustains the righteous."  Psalm 37:17 

"In Your righteousness deliver me; incline Your ear to me and save me. Be to me a rock of habitation to which I may continually come; You have given commandment to save me, for You are my rock and my fortress."  Psalm 71:2-3

     Oh Lord, thank You for Your word with which you have sustained me. Sometimes I need to be rescued from others, from the enemy trying to destroy me. And sometime...sometimes I need to be literally rescued by You from my own ungratefulness. 
   I often wondered why many of Your peoples' fires go out. They receive You into their hearts for the first time with all joy and awe and it's amazing the love and happiness and pure glee that spills forth from them. Then somewhere, somehow that fire begins to burn down and...just...slowly...dies. 
     That's how I was feeling today.That is, until You graciously and faithfully reminded me. You took me to these Psalms and showed me what to pray. Because, oh, when my own prayers become tired and feel sluggish and weighed down with "is this good enough, God?" I know that I need to keep praying like I need the air in my lungs You graciously give. But sometimes...I don't heart just can't seem to find it's footing on the mountain of Your praise. But lo, our faithlessness does never nullify Your faithfulness and love. (Romans 3:3)
     I believe we get knocked off the course of our path so easily because we so desperately want that "on fire" feeling to last forever. We want to constantly be walking on Your high mountains and looking out over Your indescribable canyons of never-ending glory. And there is nothing wrong with that. I believe Your never-ending-love-beating heart rejoices that we, Your scurrying and chaotic children, have a place deep inside that just can't get enough of Your holy presence. A place surely created and placed tenderly by Your very own hand.
     But life always creeps in. The dishes must be done. The floor must be swept (again). And the laundry..."wasn't that basket just empty 5 minutes ago and now its gone and bred even more clothes??" And we can't avoid our lives. We can't simply toss everything into the air and change it all up just because we are changed. We must now begin to learn how to live, completely and wholly new, among that which is still the same. Still the same. To the point of being mundane. 
     But You, oh Lord, are never mundane. Your Spirit which You give to us is anything but ordinary. Splendor, majesty, strength, beauty...these are qualities of the Most High! (Psalm 96:6) Your Spirit, which You give to us (to me??) is power and life. (John 14:26, Romans 5:5) Isn't that what we all want, Lord?? To feel wholly and eternally alive??
    So Lord, let me remember that, when I feel the mundaneness of my perpetually still-same schedule creeping in, that You are a rock of habitation to which I may continually come. Let me not put my hope in my feelings and emotions (may it never be!) but only in You and Your beautiful promises Lord. Teach me how to live and walk changed among that which is still the same so that the "same" might also put their hopes in You and become changed too. Holy Spirit, teach me to be faithful to You even, especially, when the flames inside me are burning low, for You are my Source now and always. Amen.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Just In Case Someone Out There Is Broken Like Me

Psalm 145:8-9 NASB
The LORD is gracious and merciful; Slow to anger and great in lovingkindness. The LORD is good to all, And His mercies are over all His works.

Psalm 119:156 NASB
Great are Your mercies, O LORD; Revive me according to Your ordinances.

Lamentations 3:22-23 NASB
The LORD'S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.

       Today is a new day and if you have breath in your lungs and woke up this morning God has given you another chance. He is the God of mercy and abundant lovingkindness.
      If you are feeling today like you are too far gone and have strayed too far away you need only to read these verses to know that today is a new day the Lord has given you. A gift from His very own hand. If you woke up feeling discouraged or downtrodden know first that you DID wake up. He is saying to you "Get back up. I am giving you a fresh start this morning. Let's tackle this thing together"
       Yesterday is gone and forgotten. (Isaiah 43:25) "I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake, And I will not remember your sins." Let us not forget that He has created time in such a way that we cannot go back...only forward. He has done this for a reason. Don't let Satan hold you in the chains of yesterday. God has given you a blessing of another NEW day.
    And, yes, He wants you to do the right thing in His sight. But He also wants you to move forward, believe His promises, and (if necessary and possible) make an attempt to right your wrongs. He will help you. He will move mountains for you if you cry out to Him. We just need to understand some mountains are huge and take a really long time to get out of the way. In the mean time, just put one foot in front of the other.
   I am with you friend. I feel you. I hear the cries of your broken heart. I love you...every part of you (even the broken parts). And Jesus loves us all (jagged edges and rips and all).

Friday, December 12, 2014

Why You Shouldn't Be A Harsh Judge

      Ok, ladies, here's the deal: we are not perfect. We as moms, wives, daughters, friends?? We will make mistakes today. We will stumble (probably a bunch of times) and maybe even fall. We will say something to hurt someone we love or snap at someone out of exasperated pride or maybe even snub a friend when she needs us most. At the very least we will have a few sinful thoughts brewing in our pride-ridden hearts. But Jesus says that He loves us with and everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3). So let's muster up the courage to just admit and accept that fact before we even put our weary bare feet on the floor this morning. Let us just look up to our gracious Savior, raise our hands (partly in praise and partly in surrender) and say, "Lord, I accept that I am far from perfect and I know You do not expect me to be that way today. I trust in Your perfection and holiness and know that it is not because of my clean house or perfectly obedient children (ppffftt. . .yeah right) that You love me. But only because You created me and because You are love."
      So your probably saying to yourself right about now, "Trust me, I already know I'm not perfect. I don't need you to tell me." So why, oh why, dear sisters do we as women constantly beat ourselves up over even the silliest, most insignificant things?? don't do that? Your balanced and emotionally stable enough to smile calmly and take it in astride when you pick your child up from preschool only to realize his pants have been on backwards ALL day?? (yes, that was me...the poor child) Well then a-maz-ing woman, please friend me on Facebook so I too can learn your secret.
     But let's be real here. While most of us may put on a brave face in light of a faux pas moment, deep inside I believe we are all imaging all sorts of gossipy judgments raining down on us. Or am I the only one here? (c'mon ladies, don't leave me hanging here all alone on the crazy train) And I think also that we can be so used to these imaginary character attacks that we don't even realize how tense and anxious we have become. At least I know that's true for me. And when I talk with my very dear (and very admirable) sisters I realize I am far from alone.
     Ladies, I know our wonderful Savior who created us in such love and dedication would rarely, if ever, be as harsh and demanding and even downright tyrannical on us as we are on ourselves. I mean, He is called the God of forgiveness for a reason. (Nehemiah 9:17) When I think of Jesus putting the scribes and pharisees in their place for judging the sinful woman who anointed His feet with her very own tears... 
     Here is a woman, probably a prostitute (Jesus Himself said her sins were many), probably a total spiritual wreck on the inside. I am willing to bet this poor woman beat herself down daily for her mistakes. I am also willing to bet that this woman was trying her best to survive in a not-so-nice world, doing the best she could with what she had. And our sweet, tender-hearted Jesus still loved her with an everlasting love. He forgave all her sins, which were many because He alone could see deep into her heart. That she desperately wanted to change. To be accepted and loved for who she was inside, not for what she did or said or how she dressed. She wanted to be a better person than who she was. If only she could get out from under the heaviness of society's judgments that covered her like a blanket of bricks, keeping her as low to the ground as possible. She longed to live a different way. A better way. She just didn't know how. (Ever felt like that?)
     And if Jesus, the same God who created us in tender love all the way back in the beginning, so loves to forgive - why, oh why, dear sisters do we not forgive ourselves? Why do we carry around our past mistakes like bricks hidden in our handbags, silently struggling with the weight as we smile politely on the outside? If He removed our transgressions as far from us as the east is from the west, why can't we just. let. it. go? 
     Now this is not to say that we should walk around all sin-happy just because He is a God of forgiveness and grace. Remember the words of the Holy Spirit through Paul: "How can we who died to sin still live in it?" (Romans 6:2) But it is a heart that wants to be better. That recognizes it's dark parts and longs for a Savior to wash it clean. This is the heart that the God of the whole entire universe, who created e-v-e-r-y-thing falls in love with (doesn't it just give you chills?). This is also the heart that is mightily blessed to fall in love with Him.
     I know, as I read blogs and Facebook posts and listen to my dear sisters, that this is the cry of all our hearts. With one resounding and harmonized voice many hearts cry together to the mighty Shepherd "Yes, Lord! We want to know You more so that we can be more like You!" 
     So, today, I offer two challenges. The first has to do with judging others. I know its a hard thing to admit so I'll be the first to come clean: I have had judgmental and criticizing thoughts about my family, friends, even that guy in the post office whom I have never before met in my life (whew! there, I said it). But God's word says there is no partiality with Him. He does not play favorites. (Romans 2:11) He loves the mom losing it with her screaming kid (you know, the one I just judged as a bad mom?) in Walmart just as much as He loves me. So the challenge is: the next time one of those ugly little thought bubbles pops up and attempts to turn you heart against a person who is probably just doing the best they can with what they have, just pop it. Let's, instead, try to imagine how we would feel if somebody said or thought that about us. Let's ask our gracious God for wisdom to see that person through His eyes of love and for a heart softened and changed. (and let's not forget about our own logs...hmm?)
     The second challenge has to do with judgement of ourselves. Remember what the Holy Spirit said about partiality through Paul? Well, the same goes for you and I. Jesus loves us just as much as that perfectly-put-together mom we are comparing ourselves with. (Because, let's face it, how many times have I been that mom in Walmart losing it on my kids?) So here it is: the next time we have a negative thought about ourselves I challenge us to pray first and second figure out what the exact opposite of that thought is (I am pretty, I am a loving wife, my children are not going to grow up to be serial killers) and purposefully think it. Choose to believe it. (And remember Jesus left His heavenly home to come to this earth and suffer greatly and die for really think He'd do all that if He wasn't crazy mad in love with you??)
     Believe me my beautiful sisters (and brothers), I know this is much easier said than done. But I also know if we ask our loving Father for grace and help in time of need He will provide the manna for us (Hebrews 4:16). Just for today...think beautiful thoughts!

"He does not delight in the strength of the horse;
He does not take pleasure in the legs of a man.
The Lord favors those who fear Him,
Those who wait for His lovingkindness."
Psalm 147:10-11