Consuming Fire!

Don’t Google the questions you need answers for. Go to the source instead. This is prompted after reading several blogs outside of WordPress. One writer was writing about what church should look like. He erroneously proclaimed that the Bible does not contain any instructions on what the church should look like. I am speaking about the church Jesus Christ instructed and described in great detail in scripture.

So I go and Google that question thinking I would find good answers. I was wrong again! Every denomination and self-proclaimed expert has a totally different opinion on the answer. I read a few just to get an idea of why so many people could have it wrong. I discovered that it is a great miracle that anyone has it right.

I found way too many sites where “experts” were defining “church” as a place where you should feel comfortable. Or a place where your feelings matter. Or a place where you can find refuge from the cruel world outside. The list goes on and none of them could quote scripture to back up their “knowledge”. Most of which can be found in 1 Corinthians and Titus. They were preaching about church based on what the average public, who don’t know church or scripture, want to hear.

Yes! You should find a safe church, but does that really exist? You should find a church that has good a/c so you won’t sweat, but is it really necessary? You should find a church who cares about your feelings, but how does that help you grow in Christ?

I think it is awesome that so many people attend church throughout the week. People are involved in evangelizing and growing a community of Christian believers who serve an awesome God. But are they going through the motions or actually getting results.

I know a lot of people who go through the motions. They show up at church when the doors are open because they have nothing else to do. It is something they have done for many many years. They feel they should but have no real feelings about why they are there.

Third Day put out the song “Consuming Fire” several years ago. I not only love the music that goes with this but the words are few but deep.

“Consuming Fire”

Set this place on fire
Send you spirit, Savior
Rescue from the mire
Show Your servant favor
Yesterday was the day that I was alone
Now I’m in the presence of Almighty God

[Chorus:]

And yes our God, He is a consuming fire
And the flames burn down deep in my soul
Yes our God He is a consuming fire
He reaches inside and He melts down this
cold heart of stone.

Set this place on fire
Send Your spirit, Saviour
Rescue from the mire
Show your servant favor
Yesterday was the day that I was alone
Now I’m in the presence of Almighty God

[Repeat chorus]

Did you realize that inside you there is a flame?
Did you ever try to let it burn?

When I go to church, I want to be on fire or at least have a flickering flame or a spark. I don’t want to get wet when I go there, I want to be consumed. I get excited even before I know it is church night. I look forward to learning and seeing what God has in store for me. Sometimes I get to enjoy what He has in store for someone else, and that is just as exciting. Sometimes I feel Him thump me on the head because I got it wrong. That is exciting too. It is my opportunity to learn and change into what He wants me to be.

I go expecting to see miracles, see lives changed, see people come to a real understanding of why they are there and why they matter. Sure you should feel good about church but it isn’t about how you feel. It should be about how you feel God as He is at work in the church and in you. How God is using the people to further His kingdom, to nurture each other and to spread His love. Church shouldn’t be about us. It should be about God!

Does That Really Happen?

You know, one of those stories that sound so incredibly unreal they are hard to believe. Like the neighbor who won a million dollars or his dog was eaten by an alligator or he found a valuable antique watch or something in an old chair he just bought at a garage sale. Well, they say that truth is stranger than fiction and I think they are right. I have heard of these stories and read them in the paper etc. for years, but never has one been as close as family.

Unfortunately it isn’t something cool that involves money or saving someones life. My daughter-in-law was driving near her home this afternoon and noticed an unmarked police car in her rear view mirror. Sure enough he pulled her over. When he came to the window to get her license, registration and insurance, he asked her if her weapon was in the vehicle. She said it is. He asked her if it was loaded. She said it is. He asked her where it was. She said in her purse. He said he needed for her to get out of her car. She politely said no, she would not. She told him she was not getting out of the car without her baby. He told her to drive on. She committed no infraction. He had no legal right to pull her over.

My son checked when he got home later and there was no record of her tag being run by the PD. I knew from her wording of what he said to her that it didn’t sound right. I knew there was a fake cop working in their area but I never imagined anything like this would happen to anyone I know. I could scream right now. I hate being so far away and feeling so out of control. It is my nature to protect. And when someone has harmed one of my own, I get irate.

So, what am I doing about it? Praying extra hard! Also, if you are ever pulled over and not sure if the cop is real, call 911 and ask the dispatcher to verify the cop is real. They won’t mind at all.

Father, I know You are in control even when I feel like I’m not but want to be. Please put a stop to this fake cop before someone get hurt. In Christ’s name, Amen.

The Power of Prayer

One of the most important and effective things we can do is to pray for someone. But what do we pray? Sometimes I feel like I pray to little and other times I feel like I pray too much. I want to pray with purpose and focus but how do we do that?

Matthew West is one of my favorite worship singers. I call him that because his songs are worship. I read these lyrics from his song “The Power of a Prayer” and it blew me away. The words are familiar to me as I struggled not too long ago with a spouse who just refused to listen to anyone who opposed his “correct” thinking.

“The Power Of A Prayer”

Dear God, it’s me
Calling out to You
Tonight I’m on my knees
Hoping You’ll come through
This one’s for my dad
Can You help him please
The world’s made him mad
At mom and me
And I’m asking you to bring his heart back home
Oh, the power of a prayer
Mom is all I have
But she’s alone again tonight
They always used to laugh
Now all they do is fight
You know she loves that man
But he’s so far from You
She’s done all she can
But she can’t break through
And she’s begging You to bring his heart back home
Oh, the power of a prayer
Just a whisper in the dark
Spoken from a broken heart
Holding on to one last strand of faith
Somewhere in the world right now
A desperate soul is crying out
Hoping Jesus really hears us when we pray
Dear God, do You
Recognize my voice
I haven’t talked to You
Since I was a little boy
But tonight I heard my son
Pray for his old man
It made me come undone
Made me understand
That only You can bring my heart back home
Oh, the power of a prayer.

My son would be described as a good man even by someone who doesn’t know him very well. So it isn’t that I think he is a bad person who needs a serious change of heart. But I also know that the world can damage our hearts unless we take an active role is keeping it healthy. I am hoping this analogy will help.

Pray for a softened heart to replace the one the world created. Over time, our hearts take a beating. If we don’t give this treatment over to God, our hearts will suffer. Ezekiel 36:26 reads “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.”

Pray for a clean heart. This world is full of garbage and behaviors it says are OK. Well, it isn’t OK and can make your heart suffer great sorrow because of it. Psalm 51:10 reads “Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me.”

Pray they have true desire for God. When we focus on our own desires, they become what is most important to us. If we make God our only true and passionate desire, life in Him is complete. Psalm 27:4 reads “One thing I have desired of the Lord,That will I seek: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord All the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the Lord, And to inquire in His temple.

Pray they find their strength and manhood in God. So many people boast to be great examples of how to live or act or build wealth etc. But no one can honestly boast a better example of strength and manhood than Jesus Christ. 2 Corinthians 12:9 reads “‘And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

Here is a sample prayer: Father, give name a new heart and a new spirit created from your own flesh and blood. Teach name to continually cleanse his heart with Your love and forgiveness. May name’s desire be to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of his life. Teach name to completely rely on God in all areas of his life and that God’s strength is made perfect in his weakness.

Of course the first step in any relationship is commitment. We can’t be a fan of Christ and get by. We have to be followers who desire His heart, His joy, His guidance if we are to receive them.

God bless and stay safe…

I Love Fruit!

I really do. It doesn’t matter what kind, I love it all. I am especially fond of grapefruit. Growing up we had three grapefruit trees and two navel orange trees. My grandmother, two doors down, had a small grove behind and beside her. It was awesome. We ate the ones on the trees and threw the ones on the ground…lol. They made for fun grove fights with cousins, siblings and neighborhood friends. Of course our mothers weren’t thrilled but we had fun.

For nine weeks our pastor has been teaching us the aspects of the Fruits of the Spirit. On http://www.dictionary.com, it is described as “The fruits of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22, 23; Eph. 5:9; James 3:17, 18) are those gracious dispositions and habits which the Spirit produces in those in whom he dwells and works.” The New King James Bible for Galatians 5:22-23 reads “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.”

I made a point to write down several things I wanted to remember over the course of these several weeks. 1 John 4:7-8 reads “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. “By this token, since we are made in God’s likeness, we can be known by how we exhibit love. There have been many occasions where my family and I would be at a restaurant or in a store and someone would start talking to us about church or some deep moral issue. I believe we can know other Christians by how we act. We can also know who is not at least exhibiting Christ-like behavior as well. I often watch and listen to people as they interact with each other. When someone chooses to be mean or loud when being gentle and pleasant isn’t that hard, I often want to say something to them. But I figure I’d get shot so I pray it up instead and keep my mouth shut. Our goal should be to love like Jesus.

This joy has it’s source in religion, not so much elsewhere. A relationship with Jesus is necessary to feel real joy. This joy produces a burning desire to share Jesus with other people. If we show true joy, other people will want what makes our joy.

Peace is not just the absence of war. Peace is a choice and has to begin with us. Isaiah used the phrase “Prince of Peace” to describe Jesus in Isaiah 9:6 which reads “For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Peace be still comes from Christ and is triggered by our trust in Him.

True patience is completely supernatural. It is not something we are naturally born with. It is infused into us when we love Jesus and love like He does. In 1 Corinthians 13, known as the love chapter; God is love, love is patient, therefore God is patient or He would contradict himself. Patience is perfected in our perfect love for Jesus. It is knowing that He is in control of everything that provides the trust we need to cultivate patience.

Kindness is one of those behaviors you have to work at. Many people who are kind hearted do not speak with kindness. Some come across harsh or even mean because they do not acknowledge their abrupt manner. Kindness and forgiveness also run hand in hand as we see in Colossians 3:12-13 which reads “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.”

God is good…All the time! It stands to reason that goodness is one of these fruits.  In John 10:11 and 10:14, Jesus declares that He is “the Good Shepard”. If we are to bear fruit and witness to the world, we have to be consistent in our behavior. This is a serious mandate if we are to attempt to mirror Jesus.

God was faithful when he provided the Holy Spirit. He always keeps His promises. He is always faithful. Fear should immobilize us to serve God, not make us run from Him. Adversity and fear (just to name a few) should draw us closer to God, should make us run to the Father, just as a little child will run to their parent’s side. We possess this quality because our God does but He is a jealous God. Our grace comes at the expensive cost of Jesus’ life.

The Greek word for gentleness is prautes. Prautes as defined by the ancient Greeks has several meanings and examples. According to www.ExecutableOutlines,com, Prautes is defined as:

1. To describe persons or things which have in them a certain soothing quality… — E.g, having a humble and kind demeanor which calms another’s anger

2. To describe gentleness of conduct, especially on the part of people who had it in their power to act otherwise… a. E.g., a king forgiving a servant who failed a particular task 1) The king has the authority and power to render punishment 2) But chooses instead to show kindness and forgiveness b. Such a king would be praised for his gentle and meek behavior

3. To describe the ability to take unkind remarks with good nature… a. E.g., as when embroiled in controversy b. Being able to discuss things without losing one’s temper because of unkind and unfair personal remarks

4. Most often, to describe the character in which strength and gentleness are perfectly combined… a. E.g., a horse obedient to the reins, a watchdog friendly to the family owning him b. There is great strength present, but it is tempered by a gentle spirit.

It can also be described as being submissive, teachable and considerate. Again, God is our perfect example. He is able to show gentleness when needed and not when needed.

Self-control is difficult to master. By nature, we want things our way or the easy way. Having self-control is not natural or easy. Without this virtue, the other fruits will not be evident. Without it the works of the flesh cannot be overcome. Self-control starts with the choice to have and execute it. It is easy to run to fear when we are afraid or run to anger when someone wrongs someone. Having self-control propels the other fruits which would remain hidden and undeveloped with out it.

Seeing the big picture of these fruits has given me more understanding of how weaved together they really are. We tend to compartmentalize bits and pieces of ourselves, whether it is memories or behaviors. Seeing how these virtues work together makes making them work together easier.

Did I do that?

Considering my son’s fathers’ behavior while he was growing up, I understand that my son has issues making decisions but WOW! Everyday he changes his mind about his job. He has a great career working for a well paying fire department. He has a job offer at another fire department from a former chief. The chief sought out my son because of his reputation and integrity. They have worked together for years and share a mutual respect. The inspector job, however, would be a traditional 8-5 job except for on call time which is shared over the course of the month. Weekends off, vacation days, better family insurance but a lot less money than he is making now.

The problem, my son can’t make a decision. Everyday he changes his mind. My daughter-in-law wants to be a good wife and listen to his concerns etc, but he is spinning in circles between the two opportunities and staying where he is. I feel so badly for her because his father was the same way. I am a fixer and I can’t fix this. I am an exhorter, and I don’t know what to say to him to be of help. I feel defeated and useless. He is lacking a life skill and I feel responsible.

I paused to pray and got an idea. I told him he needed to put all three options on a piece of paper. Chart it out with pros and cons for each so they can discuss and decide on something they can actually see. Figure out the money differences, the hours, etc. and see what happens from there.

Father, I know You know what the future holds for their family and I trust you with their future. Please help them make the decisions You want them to make. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Eyes on the Prize

My daughter-in-law is a lovely young woman. She was a cheerleader in high school and my son had a huge crush on her. She married her high school sweetheart but soon realized he wasn’t the prince she thought he was. He did the “church” thing but not because it was in his heart. She found out he was cheating on her and their marriage went down hill from there. Against her beliefs and preference, the marriage was not salvageable.

She is also her grandparents caregiver most of the week. She shares her duties with her mother and holds a job to boot. I’m not making her out to be a superhero, but that kind of sacrifice and devotion is more than worthy of mention.

She calls me on nights when my son is working and she has a moment of thought. If she vents to her mom or sister, they turn it back around on her instead of hearing her out and being an empathetic ear. She needs to cry. She needs to let it out and let it go. She needs to be heard. It isn’t a call to action. It is a call of compassion. The same compassion she pours out as a caregiver.

Lately they have had several scares. A few months ago he fell outside while messing around in his shed. His wife came looking for him a few hours later. It was late at night by then. He had missed supper. He was on the ground, not hurt but still unable to get up. His wife tried to get him up but couldn’t. She did manage to drag him, on the rug he landed on, as far as the step to their back door. She didn’t want to call anyone because it was so late and she knew everyone was sleeping. She brought him a pillow and blankets from the house and made him comfortable, then went inside to bed. Needless to say, her grandmother got a serious chewing out, in love mind you, but sternly.

Every summer, for 50+ years, her grandparents take their RV to the beach. During a wonderful three week vacation, different family members will take turns taking their families to spend a few days with them. They just returned from their last vacation to the beach. They know it is their last one. They spent the last few days cleaning it out to get ready for the For Sale sign. The end of any tradition is difficult but especially considering the reasons they are not able to do this anymore.

He has also been having chest, neck and arm pain in varying degrees. When he had pain a few days ago, he didn’t want anyone’s help. My daughter-in-law was trying to help him but he told her to get the Tums instead. He proceeded to tell her his version of  the “end”. He made it clear to her that he wants to die at home, not in a hospital or nursing home. She promised him she would help make that happen.

She is a strong woman, wife and mother who puts her trust in the only living God. He strengthens her and gives her peace. I pray for God’s blessings on her and her family as they travel this long and difficult road together. We know the journey will end at the beginning of paradise.

Father, losing someone is never easy, even when we know they will spend eternity with You. We don’t get to spend time with them anymore and long for a reunion. Please bless us with Your comfort and peace as we face these heartbreaking times in our lives. Help us remember to trust You through the pain and keep our eyes on the prize…Eternal life with You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

The Loss of a Day

You know when you lose something and you search for it until you find it? Well, how do you find a lost day. I wasn’t in a flare so it wasn’t lost there. I didn’t have a hundred appointments to cram into an eight hour day so that can’t be it. I don’t sleep well enough to miss an entire day although that would be awesome. I woke up yesterday and had an average day. But my inner clock is stuck on Saturday. The problem…it’s Friday!

With Summer in full swing parents all over are hearing their children complain because they are bored to tears. I remember wishing my days would just be over with. Get to the weekend or something, anything but stop where I was. I text my grandchildren and hear the same things we use to say. Nothing is worse than being bored.

Or so I thought. My grandmother use to say I should never wish away a day. She never elaborated why but as I approach the age she was when I was a little girl, I think I understand. We can’t get our days back. Luckily there aren’t many days I’d want back. Maybe the birth of my children and grandchildren. Maybe a day here and there with loved ones who are gone. Maybe a day or so when I honestly had fun and was pain free. But not many. I haven’t led a perfect life but I have had a contented life. I have everything I need right here and gaining a day wouldn’t change a thing. So why the lost day. Where did it go?

Out my window I can watch the birds and squirrels take turns hogging the sunflower seed container hanging from an orange tree. Their antics are fun to watch. They don’t care what day it is. It has no effect on them whatsoever what day of the week it is. I see people coming and going and wonder if any of them lost a day and if they did, do they feel like I do? It is almost like someone stole it. I know I can’t get it back but I don’t like being stuck in tomorrow when tomorrow isn’t here yet. Then what will happen the next day? Will I stay in this lost feeling of not knowing what happened to a day? Will there be more days or just the one day? Why does it matter, it’s gone. Never to be experienced ever again. Funny how that sounds so final.

Stay safe and God bless!

I Want More!

I knew I shouldn’t do it. I knew it was a bad idea. But, yes, I did it anyway. I was going through a drawer and saw what I knew were some old poems I wrote when I met my, then to be, husband. As I read through them I realized a few things that have escaped me.

I have a huge capacity to love. This is very evident by the words I chose to use in these poems. Even in the poems, you can see that I was struggling to trust him. Throughout them I seem to be justifying his bad behavior. Why did I allow him to captivate me in a way that made me abandon all reasoning? Why didn’t I dump him like a few that went before him. I cannot live in this regret and expect to be productive and happy. No, I don’t like being alone. I have enjoyed having a loving man beside me, but during the last several years of our marriage, his love was quickly being replaced by something I have yet to be able to name.

He had alienated me from all of my friends, one at a time. If the friend was attractive, he would make at pass at her. If the friend wasn’t attractive, he would insult her. They didn’t tell me what was going on and I didn’t see it happening. As I look back, I can see somewhat of a pattern. Why didn’t I do something to stop it? Surely I didn’t justify what he did? When we separated, most of our friends were actually his friends. If it hadn’t been for my children, church family and co-worker’s, I would have been completely alone.

So I will move past the pain and things these poems continue to create. One day I hope to post them. I thought I was ready but clearly there needs to be more healing. More positive reflections, more prayers and more self forgiveness. God is good…all the time!

Stay safe and God bless.

Where are you?

Small rant here…

I use to wonder how people could believe dictators and false religions when there is so much information out there if you want to find it. But I realized a few things along my journey.

People who are in a wrong place choose to be there. That is their design and it is what pleases them.

People who are in a wrong place do not know they are in a wrong place. If you grow up in a society that thinks getting your way at all costs is normal, then they go somewhere where that is a foreign concept, then they naturally don’t fit in.

People who are in a wrong place don’t know God. If they did, they would be in a good place and know that the wrong place was a bad place.

People who are in a wrong place could be just that easily led astray. Not to say they are dumb, they are following the wrong people.

Growing up, my generation generally had good role models to look up to. Either in the family or out. Now days those good role models seem to be few and far between. There are no more Washington’s running for president. There are no more crusaders working toward the good of all mankind. It has become a dog eat dog world and there seems to be no end in sight. I’m not a doomsday-er by any means of the word. I just know the end won’t be pretty.

Please feel free to share your thoughts.

Update to the update

Yes, I do that when I don’t have a real title. OK, update to the update is this, there is no update. Everything is the same so how can there be an update. Mom is still mom, which is great if you like to argue in between the generous moments. Sis is still sis who like mom likes to be contrary and moody and dramatic. Dad is still dad which means that is OK because dad is dad. And I am me. Since I only recently found me, I can honestly say that is good too. Now I am just trying to figure out how I fit into this unusual puzzle.

My days are mixed between being comfortable and uncomfortable. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t expect to be comfortable all the time but those times are very few and some days it is aggravating. Now this itching thing is lingering beyond a few days but I do notice my pain is less when the itchy stuff is going on. I really would prefer the pain and the body aches are the same, they don’t fluctuate either way.

I have felt like venting and whining more lately and that isn’t usually how I do things. I usually pray it up and let God deal with it so I don’t have to. But lately I haven’t been doing that very much and I don’t know why. I do know I need more alone time but that is harder to get now too. I can have some in the evenings when everyone goes to bed, but then I’m tired too. Not sure what to do with that.

And now that the folks have decided to eat badly (unhealthy) the pantry is riddled with junk food that I have to work around. I guess I just have to stop worrying about everything, not care about anything and just exist. It lasted that long. Can’t do it.

So, the battle over the a/c continues too. Last night my dad put the heat on 76. I cried. This morning mom put it on 70. What the…? I don’t know if I am coming or going half the time. I’m looking for a change here and nothing is coming to mind. I need to pray it up more but then I’m back to the other problem. I don’t know why and I don’t understand. It’s like all the noise is robbing me of my time with God. I will try to spend time with Him tonight and see if I can get an answer to solve this problem. It is really bothering me and with that all out of whack, everything is out of whack.

I will post more later. Have a good night.