Vacation Bible School or Battle Mom Royale

This week has been amazing so far. I have been looking for the Holy Spirit to show up and He certainly has done so. I am praying for a particular woman though and I’ll tell you why.

The first day she and I had a small confrontation. It wasn’t just between her and I though, she made sure the entire church knew about it. I guess that sounds a little bitter. I am praying it up but I haven’t turned it loose yet. Hopefully this post will help make that happen.

She was standing on the opposite end of the same pew I was standing in. She was motioning to her daughter for her to go to her. She neglected to speak to me or my two co-leaders personally. She didn’t care that we have a checkout process. She was ready to go and wanted what she wanted. I was in the process of dismissing another child while this was going on, so I put my hand in front of her child to stop her and instructed her to wait. I specifically said “No, you need to wait”. That was all I did and said. The woman loudly proclaimed at me “That was rude.” I know I looked at her in amazement because I was dumbfounded. I didn’t think it was rude to protect her child. I didn’t know this woman from Eve and because I was already talking to one child, I had not heard her child tell me the woman was her mom.

Admittedly, I had hoped she would be polite enough to walk over and ask me for her child but apparently I was expecting too much. So as I stood there like a deer in the headlights, she had placed her hands on her hips by now and was glaring at me. I had to stop my gaze from becoming a glare and quickly turned to the next child hoping I could shake this and it be done with. I went home, vented a little and was ready for the next day.

Sure enough, the next day we were both back and ready to tackle anything. My joke, sorry. This time she was polite and waited for her child’s name to be called. Rather smooth but without any eye contact. No problem. Let’s move past yesterday’s whatever it was.

Thursday, today, rolls around. Her daughter responded to the invitation. Hallelujah! What an awesome time. I was excited, the workers were excited, so we were anticipating equal excitement from her mother.

Again she stood a pews’ distance from any of us three workers and said “Where’s Roni?” I remained where I was and projected politely to her, “She responded to the invitation.” Instead of smiles and other exciting exclamations she started rambling. As she rambled, she walked past me to where my two co-workers were standing without looking in my direction or acknowledging I existed. Her rambling went like this “She got saved two weeks ago. She knows all about Jesus. She doesn’t need to talk to a counselor.” By this time I stopped listening and started praying for her. I wanted to say a lot but I knew it would fall on deaf ears. My two co-workers tried to calm her down and explain that she still had questions but the mothers response was a rude and abrasive, “Yea, I get it. Roni is an attention hound.” And she walked away.

OK, putting this on paper, of sorts, did help me release the anger and animosity I think I had been feeling along with still being dumbfounded by her behavior. But now it has changed to sadness. I’m still dumbfounded how a mother could act that way let alone have those feelings about their child.

Today, Friday, I was talking with another leader who is a little more familiar with this woman and learned a few things. She has made being a foster parent a career. She has adopted five children and is working on number six. She is traveling at the speed of sound and missing everything God has placed in her path.

We have no idea what these children deal with on a daily basis, or the parents for that matter. I will be praying for Roni and her mom for some time to come.

Stay safe and God bless…

 

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A Picture of Paradise

Luke 23:43 promises we will spend eternity, forever with Jesus. The Scripture reads in part, “today you will be with me in paradise”. There are several key things in this verse that make me very happy to be a Christ follower.

First is the word ” today “. This word has sparked controversy for many years across many denominations. Personally it confirms to me that the people who believe in purgatory have got it wrong. Jesus would not have said ” today ” if He didn’t mean it. So I believe that if I die today, I will be with Jesus today because He says so.

Next is the word “you”. Throughout the bible there are several references to specific people. In Leviticus, God sent word through Moses to the Israelites about how He expected them to behave. Here though, He uses the word ” you”. So, in the absence of a specific people here, this tells me He means everyone.

Next is “with me”. This confirms that we will be with Jesus in eternity. If not, He would have worded this another way.

Last but not least are the words ” in paradise “. Wahoo!!! This is so cool. I can scarcely begin to imagine what paradise will be like. I can see it being the Garden of Eden, the way God intended it to be. A place where there is no darkness, no pain, no tears, no fear (Rev. 21).

I hope you are as excited about this verse as I am. Stay safe and God bless.

And the Winner is…

I was reading my morning devotion and the scripture verse was Exodus 34:14 “for you shall worship no other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God“. It went on to talk about how Paul explained to the church in Corinth that he was jealous for them with a godly jealously in 2 Corinthians 11:2 (For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy.”). And more scripture that tells us we are created in God’s image (Genesis 1:27, “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him”). If jealousy is in His image then how can it be a bad thing? So I started to wonder about this jealously Paul (and others) was speaking of since, in my understanding of the word, ranks up there with envy.

To make matters worse, envy is defined as “the desire to have for oneself something possessed by another, covetousness”. OK, so now, we’ve added yet another word to this issue that is clearly talked about in scripture under the heading of “Thou shalt not”.

But never fear, my trusty dictionary will clear this up. I dug around in the “jealous” department and discovered that it isn’t actually similar to envy although we sometimes use the different words and meanings interchangeably. Way down in the definition of jealous I found that it also means “solicitous or vigilant in maintaining or guarding something” and ” intolerant of unfaithfulness or rivalry”. Phew!

Now we’re getting somewhere. But as I pondered my own “jealously” issues for Christ, it brought up questions. Could all those people standing around preaching and yelling (“repent and be saved” or “Jesus is coming, get right with God or die”) and a variety of others, actually be reacting to this world out of Godly jealously? We tend to think they are a little nuts, ignore them and continue on about our day but what if it is real honest Godly jealously? What if they have it right and we are just uncomfortable with their delivery? What if, instead of ignoring them and walking briskly away, we shaked their hand and acknowledged our new understanding of their mission?

I don’t know if this will help me when I get passionately defensive of Christ or if it will fuel my patience and love of those who choose not to follow Him. But at least now I have a new found understanding and tolerance for those who choose to shout it in the streets.

This ending wasn’t anything I had envisioned for this post when I started it. I paused a lot and prayed a lot over it so hopefully it is what God directed me to write.

Stay safe and God bless.

A Lie is Still a Lie

I’m not bragging when I talk about myself by any means. I use my experiences as examples of hurdles you can jump over too. I was fired from three jobs during the course of my years as a software consultant because I wouldn’t lie to clients. I know the look on my face the first time was priceless. The deer in the headlights thing comes to mind. But to ask someone to lie…how do you do that and expect them to actually do it? When I said “No” the look on his face was as though I had slapped him, so I’m sure I was the first “No”. When he stuttered the “W, W, W, Well, you’re fired” at me, I calmly stood up and walked out with my head held high.

The second time I said “No”, the man asked me “Why not?”. I was all too happy to tell him. I explained to him that my committment to God was greater than any amount of money and I had no intention of dishonoring God for any man. He sat there with a dumbfounded look on his face only because I’m sure he had no idea what I had just said. I struggled to contain my laughter at his reaction while holding back my anger all at the same time. Again I calmly walked out.

The third time I said “No”, went about the same way as the second only there were several people in the room. After I made my stand they all made snide comments as though I were not in the room at all. It was somewhat comical at first but as I thought about what they were asking me to do, I started to wonder why I was in this situation another time. I left the room watching them out of the corner of my eye as they clamored to figure out what went wrong. I sort of smiled as I left but not because I felt I had gotten something over on them, I was smiling because that is what God wanted me to do. I wanted to get mad and say things I knew I shouldn’t. But it wasn’t my reputation on the line here, it was theirs.

There are tons of liars in scripture. God never said the lies were OK but he still used the people who made them for His purposes. From the serpent who lied to Eve throughout time, liars will be a part of life. Lets look at a few from scripture.

Genesis 31:7 (NKJV) “Yet your father has deceived me and changed my wages ten times, but God did not allow him to hurt me.

1 Kings 21:1-16 NKJV) “She wrote letters, saying, Proclaim a fast, and seat Naboth with high honor among the people; and seat two men, scoundrels, before him to bear witness against him, saying, ‘You have blasphemed God and the king.’ Then take him out, and stone him, that he may die.”

Proverbs 11:1 (NKJV) “Dishonest scales are an abomination to the Lord, But a just weight is His delight.” and Micah 6:11 (NKJV) “Shall I count pure those with the wicked scales,
And with the bag of deceitful weights?

People lie for all sorts of reasons but the ones that have impacted me the most are the ones where people are attempting to profit from their lies. Back to the third time…See, they had invested about two months of 40-60 hour work weeks in me to get me ready for this client project not thinking that my lying would be a show stopper. Needless to say they were livid. One of them came after me crying his eyes out because he knew his failure to convince me to lie would be the lose of his job. Another was mad enough that I was ready to defend myself because his body posture was very aggressive. And from a woman who was fairly sweet the day before, came words I had never heard in my life.

I know it is human nature to lie in order to avoid difficulty we choose not to face, but I also know there are consequences. Whether we face them now, later or seem to get away with our lies, there is One who knows every word and every thought that we have ever had. While it is true that God is a forgiving God, I personally never want to do anything on purpose to disappoint Him.  Romans 3:4 (NKJV) “Certainly not! Indeed, let God be true but every man a liar. As it is written: “That You may be justified in Your words, And may overcome when You are judged.”

Stay safe and God bless.

No Pain, No Gain

I use to hear that on the softball field or in the exercise room. Later in life I would hear doctors say that pain equals something bad and that it is a signal to back off. So what changed? Were the coaches wrong or misguided? Or were they just talking about a different kind of pain?

Listening to how everyone complains about how much they hurt is sometimes annoying for me. The other day I observed a woman holding her abdomen clearly in pain and wanting someone to acknowledge her for it. I didn’t because I didn’t want to have that conversation but why was she doing that? Was she looking for sympathy? Was she in real need? I’m not sure. She continued on so it must not have been that dire or did she just push through it?

Pain and suffering are a fact of life just like death and taxes as my dear departed grandmother used to say. But they too have a purpose. So instead of looking at this sometimes grim subject grimly, I decided to look at the positive things that can come from life’s pain and suffering.

Pain and Suffering has the ability reshape us. Isaiah 48:10 (NKJV) “Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.” God will purify and refine us. He can take our weaknesses and make them into strengths. We have to be willing to see them as weaknesses and be willing to turn them into something useful instead. If we continue to hide our candles (weaknesses) under a basket, our flames (growth) will be snuffed out.

Pain and Suffering has the ability to create spiritual maturity. James 1:2-4 (NKJV) “My  brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” The more we rely on God and allow Him to take care of us, the easier it becomes. It should be a natural thing when something goes wrong for us to look up and say to God, “You got this Father” and let Him have it.

Pain and Suffering has the ability to prepare us to comfort others. 2 Corinthians 1:3-5 (NKJV) “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ.” Think about it. Can someone who has not suffered offer you hope?

Pain and Suffering has the ability to bring us closer to God. Job 42:5 (NKJV) “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, But now my eye sees You.” Have you noticed that the more you talk to someone the closer you become to them? The relationships we have can truly be measured by the amount of interaction we have with each person. The true friendships are the unique ones. Like my friends in North Carolina I don’t talk to but once every few months or sometimes less. We are old friends and can pick up where we left off no matter how few times we speak to one another. But our regular relationships suffer if we don’t interact on a regular basis. Our relationship with God works the same way.

There have been times in my life when I stop and wonder to myself what could God be doing that He is so busy that we haven’t spoken much lately. Yes, I chuckle a little because I know it is me, then I cry a little because I know it is me. Then I apologize to Him and my prayer life gets back on track, for a while. But this is human nature. It is something we have to work hard at because life is hard.  

Pain and Suffering has the ability to mold us further into the image of God. Romans 8:28-29 (NKJV)  “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.  For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.”  God did not forsake Jesus, He raised Him three days later. It was His purpose and He knew it.

We will endure pain and suffering of various kinds.  Hopefully we will use our experiences to comfort and encourage others along the way. I know Jesus suffered unbearable pain but looking back I also have to believe he finds it was worth His inheritance. I would never compare my pain to what He felt but I can tell you, it will be worth it no matter how bad it gets.

Stay safe and God bless.