Monthly Archives: May 2017

Free Time

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When I worked for the school district, they had a weekly column in which employees were interviewed. It was kind of a “get to know you” segment where each employee shared some information about their personal life, such as who was in their family and what their hobbies and interests were. Well, eventually it became time to do my column. What I wrote was that I enjoy gardening and cooking and spending time with friends and family. That seemed better than admitting the truth. What I really did for a hobby was come home exhausted from work and lay on the couch watching Netflix until I fell asleep.

Does anyone else struggle to find creativity in their life? Sometimes it seems like we get so caught up in the daily activities of chores, work, and errands that there does not seem like time for anything else. Any free time seems better spent catching up on rest and vegetating in front of the television. However, while those activities might be needed sometimes to rejuvenate ourselves, they are used far more than is needed.

First Timothy 4:14-15 “Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you.  Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress.”

My goal for this month is to make better use of my free time. I am not exactly sure what gifts I have, but it seems worthwhile to reflect on what they are and how I can better use them. Does anyone have any feedback on how they have found their gifts and what they are doing with them? I am open to suggestions!!

Remembering What We Are

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“For he (God) knows our frame;  he remembers that we are dust.”  Psalm 103:4

God knows us because he made us.  In Genesis we learn:

“…the Lord God formed man of dirt from the ground, and breathed in to his nostrils the breath of life;  and man became a living being.”  Genesis 1:7

Sometimes we forget who and what we really are.  God created us, and he sustains us.  Our body is fragile and temporary.  We are dust, and in a few short years our time on earth will be over.

On one hand, it can be depressing to realize this;  on the other, it makes our lives precious and meaningful.  Do I really what to delude myself by thinking I am in charge of the world?  Or do I want to make a difference by obeying the one who made me?  Do I want to waste my time acquiring things that don’t matter in the long run?  Or do I want to contribute to God’s plan and hear the words, “well done, good and faithful servant?”

Your time here is short.  God knows who you are and what you are?  Do you know Him?

 

Remember the Gospel

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“Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you–unless you believed in vain.”  1 Corinthians 15:1-2

My husband says every good Lutheran sermon must contain both law and gospel:  law so we recognize that we are sinners and the gospel message that through Christ’s atonement we are saved.

In our daily world, it’s easy to forget both of those things.  Sin has become a bad word.  We’re told it’s not healthy to feel guilt.  We simply “made a mistake” or “used poor judgement.”  It’s easy to make excuses for our behavior that lessen our responsibility.  It’s easy to deny our faults and blame somebody else.  That goes as far back as Adam, remember?  He told God, “the woman you gave me, caused me to sin.”

But we’re made for God and without Him we feel incomplete, so no matter how hard we try, guilt creeps in.  We doubt and despair.  We try to feel good about ourselves, but the devil continually whispers to us that we’ll never be acceptable.

There’s only one cure:  go to church, confess your sins really are sins and really are yours and then hear the gospel.  My husband says that’s simple, too:  Jesus Christ, crucified and risen for me.

Did you confess your sins today?  Did you hear the gospel?  If so, you may be a Lutheran.

Remember Me, Lord

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Do Lord is a traditional African-American spiritual, and the author is unknown.  I don’t know if it is based on a particular scripture, but when I wrote my post about the two thieves on the cross, this is the song that came to my mind. Connecting the song and Bible story make it more meaningful for me.  I hope you’ll enjoy this version sung by Johnny Cash.

Which One Are You?

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“One of the criminals who were hanged, railed at him, saying, ‘Are you not the Christ?  Save yourself and us!  But the other rebuked him, saying, ‘Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation?  And we indeed, justly, for we are receiving the reward of our deeds;  but this man has done nothing wrong.’  And he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’  And he said to him, ‘Truly I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”  Luke 23: 39-43

When I read these verses, the thought that comes to me is which criminal am I?  Make no mistake, I am a criminal, condemned for my sins and unable to save myself.  Sometimes I, like the first man have expected God to rescue me from all the consequences of sin in my life.  If I say I believe in Him, doesn’t He owe it to me?  Or shouldn’t He do it to prove Himself to me?  I’ll happily be a good follower, if Jesus does His part and makes my life easy and comfortable.

Not the right attitude.  I need to accept the fact that I deserve all the problems I’ve created and more.  I am indeed a poor, miserable sinner, justly condemned to an eternity of separation from God.

The second thief got it right.  He realized that he was only getting what he deserved. He recognized Jesus for who and what He is;  the blameless savior of the world.  The one who is willing to die so that even if sin (mine and others) causes me to suffer today, I don’t have to suffer eternally.

Isn’t it amazing that all I had to do is recognize my plight and say, “remember me, Lord”?  Then I’ll find that He has never forgotten me.  The God of the universe has never forgotten me, because I’m one of His children.  I’m engraved on the palms of His hand.  He’ll welcome me into His kingdom as soon as I ask.

Which one are you?

Remembering Without Dwelling

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Remembering Without Dwelling

It has been a few months since I have posted a blog. Life has been stressful…a little too stressful. Satan has been at work keeping his chaos going to deter and distract me from keeping my focus on the things of God. But that doesn’t surprise me because that is what he does best. I have been reading the posts on this topic of remembering and the Holy Spirit has used the words of my co-writers to bring me back to a place of remembering.

Remembering the covenant God made with me at my baptism, remembering my past before I was a follower of Christ, remembering my life since I proclaimed it as a student of the Lord,  remembering how God brought and delivered me from “my life” to “His life”, remembering the promise I made to God dedicating my life to Him in return, and remembering why God gave me the opportunity to share all of this with the world through the gift of writing He has given me.

In order to gain God’s true perspective on our lives we have to be willing to look back and remember the things of the past, being careful not to dwell there.

Remembering our past is important so that we learn from it. But dwelling on it is not healthy. We all have past hurts, habits, and hang-ups that have shaped us into the person we are today. Dwelling on our past ultimately leads us to making unhealthy and unwise comparisons of our past history and our present reality. But nonetheless, we are human, and humans have a tendency to stay stuck in past events which keeps them from propelling forward. It is so much easier to look back and see God’s provisions and blessings rather than see Him at work in our present situations.

Our past experiences hold immense power within us. The devil knows this and all too often uses our past to keep us from the purpose God created us for. This is what he has been trying to do to me over the past 9 months…keeping me so stressed that I have failed to see God’s perspective in my present circumstances.

God tells us in many places in the Bible about remembering. This one has brought me to this place of reflection, Ecclesiastes 7:1-14, King Solomon’s wisdom for life.

” A good reputation is more valuable than costly perfume.
And the day you die is better than the day you are born. Better to spend your time at funerals than at parties. After all, everyone dies—  so the living should take this to heart.

Sorrow is better than laughter, for sadness has a refining influence on us.
A wise person thinks a lot about death,while a fool thinks only about having a good time. Better to be criticized by a wise person than to be praised by a fool. A fool’s laughter is quickly gone, like thorns crackling in a fire. This also is meaningless. Extortion turns wise people into fools, and bribes corrupt the heart.

Finishing is better than starting. Patience is better than pride. Control your temper, for anger labels you a fool. Don’t long for “the good old days.” This is not wise. Wisdom is even better when you have money. Both are a benefit as you go through life. Wisdom and money can get you almost anything, but only wisdom can save your life. 

Accept the way God does things, for who can straighten what he has made crooked?
Enjoy prosperity while you can, but when hard times strike, realize that both come from God. Remember that nothing is certain in this life.”

I thank God that He works in my life constantly. I attended the recent Women’s Vineyard Via de Cristo weekend where I gave a talk on piety. God knew what He was doing when He laid it on the heart of our retreat leader to ask me to write it. I had written other talks before but this one was different. The devil’s fiery darts were flying all over the place…trying to knock me off balance because He knew that this message was powerful. It was not only powerful to my co-team and the first time attenders but so overwhelmingly powerful for me to write it. It helped me to write about my life before God, and now after I made the commitment to follow the Lord.

In a previous blog post Beth Ann told us about a saying she has on the wall in her house and it is one that I quote a lot when ministering to others… life is not about wading through the storms but learning to dance in the rain. So true when we are stuck in the past and unable to propel ourselves forward.

I leave you with one final thought from scripture that I cling to and God reminded me of it when writing my talk on piety… why he gave me the gift of words…

Ephesians 2:10 “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”

God Loves You And So Do I

Leslie

Remembering the Important Things

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A few days ago, I attended the graduation ceremony of my twin nephews who have both been diagnosed with ASD (Autism Syndrome Disorder).  Their school meets in a church and is very small (5 in the graduating class) and Christian.  It has come to be a place where students who cannot easily “fit in” to the public school system,  not only survive, but thrive.

One of the speakers mentioned that people might try to put them down by insinuating that this kind of school could not have given them a quality education–too small;  not enough options;  unable to afford the best and latest technology.  However, how wrong this worldly wisdom is.  My nephews, Chris and Nick, had received the best possible education because they had learned the most important things:  they learned that God loves them, and they learned to love others, even those who are somehow “different.”  All the academic stuff (and they got plenty of that, too) is secondary.

“And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, ‘Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?’  He said to him, “What is written in the Law?  How do you read it?’  And he answered, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul, and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.  And he (Jesus) said to him, ‘You have answered correctly;  do this and you will live.'”  Luke 10:25-28

Let’s all try to remember to live as if we’re really keeping the main thing (love for God and others) as the main thing in our lives.