Category Archives: June 2017: Spending Time

Spending Time With God’s Perspective

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Spending Time With God’s Perspective

Good evening! I have had something come up unexpectedly and wont be able to blog post tomorrow…so I grouped the verses together. Our Ecclesiastes 3 study continues tonight with verses 9-13…

What do people really get for their hard work? I have seen the burden God has placed on us all. Yet God has made everything beautiful in its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. So I concluded there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can. And people should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labor, for these are gifts from God.

How do we stay content in this life with so much negativity, so much violence, so much grief. Do we ignore it? Do we keep it in the back of our minds like it doesn’t exist? Ignoring, or pretending the reality of the world doesn’t exist, or doesn’t affect us, is not a healthy state for us to be in. That is why Solomon shows us here in the first 8 verses of Ecclesiastes 3 that everything exists and operates in a proper balance. We cannot ignore that hate exists. We cannot ignore that war exists. We cannot ignore that killing, death, grief, and sadness exist.

What we can do is change the attitude of our hearts. The only way for us to find true contentment in our lives depends upon our attitude. If we constantly focus on the negative things, or on the contrary, ignore them all together, then we live in a state of disillusionment. It happens when we lose our sense of purpose…the purpose God put us on this Earth to accomplish for His Kingdom. When we keep our eyes focused on the work God has for us, we begin to realize the fruits of our labor are gifts from Him. Everything we do, everything we possess, every single minute of everyday we have is because of Him… the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away.

Ultimately, we can never be satisfied with “earthly pleasures”. Maybe for a short window of time, but after a while the pleasure fades and we are right back to reality. Of all the people I have encountered, I have never heard any of them say that being addicted to earthly pleasures was fun and gave them hope. Maybe for a split second at first, but that “high” soon wears off and doesn’t help us learn how to change our lives for the better. Most of the time it only makes our situation worse.

God wants us to enjoy life, to live it to its fullest, to experience the beauty of His creation… but to do it in a way in which we don’t lose the proper perspective, His perspective. Then, and only then, will we discover that our joy and happiness comes from using the gifts God blesses us with, not in the stuff we accumulate.

God loves you and so do I,

Leslie

photo courtesy of Proverb 31 Ministies

Love Through God Goggles

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Love Through God Goggles

Welcome to today’s blog post on Ecclesiastes 3…we continue with verse 8

A time to love and a time to hate. A time for war and a time for peace.

Such a contrast between these… love/hate, war/peace… But, God’s Word says, through King Solomon, that there is a proper time for both.

The first thing Verse 8 made me think of when reading it was the saying “love the sinner, hate the sin”. There are many people I know that live in sin… living together/sexual immorality outside of marriage, drug and alcohol addiction, people who are continually dishonest, cheat, or steal. I have friends who live in alternative lifestyles, people who have shopping/spending addictions, I have a friend that is addicted to food, I have people in my life that are dealing with abuse of some kind, friends who have anger management issues. Some of these people are Christians and some of them are not. But they all have one thing in common…my love.

If you have read some of my blogs, or you know me personally, you know that I love people! I have been a people person all my life. I was modelling my love for people, the way Jesus did, before I ever even gave my life to Him. I have always wanted to love people.

Growing up, I got into a lot of trouble. Some of my own doing, but some because of the company I kept. I always gave people the benefit of the doubt, never understood how someone could be cruel to someone else, and I always stood up for people that were picked on because I knew how it felt.

I had a lot of heartache in my childhood. I was picked on, made fun of, called names, had cruel jokes played on me more than once, and not just by kids at school but my own family as well. I never felt as though I really belonged anywhere. I always felt like an outsider and always felt like the “black sheep” of the family.

It wasn’t until I was in my 30’s that Jesus started to change my perspective. I realized how to look at people through what I call, “God goggles”. My opinion of others behavior didn’t change but I was able to look at them with a new filter. One thing I’ve learned in my life is that people who are angry, bitter, committing crimes, abusing others, trying to escape reality with drugs, alcohol, or alternative lifestyles…they are people who are hurting… just like I was when I have displayed some of those traits in my own life. People express the hurt in their hearts in so many ways.

And so that is why I am friends with all types of people. I don’t discriminate. People have asked me “How can you be friends with so and so?” And I tell them, “Just because you can see their sin doesn’t mean that I don’t struggle with some of those same sins, you just don’t see it.” With some people I do take more caution for obvious reasons… I can now love them but hate the things they do. How can I do this? I’ve learned something as a Christian that I wished I had learned a long time ago… boundaries. I stick to my boundaries and guarding my heart above all else.

The second thing verse 7 made me think of was war and peace… no, not the book! I thought about war and peace in my heart. There are times in my life when I have been at war with myself, at war with God, at war with other people. There have been times in my life when I have had extreme peace in my heart, contentment within myself, my relationships, and my faith. Like I wrote in yesterday’s blog post, it is possible to be in a state of two opposite conditions of the heart simultaneously.

One for me that comes up often is spiritual warfare. As a warrior in God’s army, I am constantly fighting to protect myself from the devil’s attacks but I am at complete peace because I know that no matter what fiery arrows come my way, God is walking alongside of me. He is my heavenly father, my protector, my healer, my counselor, my provider, my comforter, my strength, and my power. That is where my peace comes from. Without it I would be lost, just like I was before I found it. Without it, I would be just like the lost, hurting people I know, who have no hope.

I love to sing! If you know me, you know that about me too! There is a song that I love to sing when I am praising my Savior for all He is for me… Because of Who You Are by Vicki Yohe. She is my favorite gospel singer. In fact it is one of the songs I have been practicing to sing at church. These are the lyrics…

Because of who you are, I give you glory
Because of who you are, I give you praise
Because of who you are, I will lift my voice and say
Lord, I worship you because of who you are
Lord, I worship you because of who you are

You see your Jehovah, Jehovah Jireh, my provider
Jehovah Nissi, Lord, you reign in victory
Jehovah Shalom, my Prince of Peace
And I worship you because of who you are

The words to this song remind me that I am His and He is mine. He is my everything, just because of who He is.

Who is God to you? Is He your everything? Or do other things hold a higher place in your heart? Are you spending more time with God or with the things of the world?

How about those “God goggles”? Do you look at others through the eyes of Christ? Or do you sit in judgement at the speck of sin in the eyes of others, meanwhile forgetting the log of sin in your own?

God loves you and so do I,

Leslie

photo courtesy of hannahhelpme.com

(and by the way, my chihuahua looks just like this pic!)

Here on Earth.

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What I’ve been given is time. Not life, not really. If I believe in what the bible says (and I do) my life, as it were, is a blink compared to the life that awaits me in a very real kingdom finer than those described in any legend or myth. Still, the time I’ve been given here is such a great gift that I can’t even grasp it. What do I do with it? How am I to spend it and with whom?

I’m still trying to work out the first question for myself and my family, and with a firm assurance I can tell you I am a terrible steward of time. I waste it, and mock it, and complain about it either dragging on too long. or flying by too fast. I often wonder what I could’ve done better in time past. Then I turn around and wonder what I can do to improve my future, and promptly begin scheming. How utterly human of me.

Why not live in the moment? Now is the best time of all. Insight is all we need, a.k.a prayers of wisdom. To remember we aren’t given a spirit of fear is to resolve to use our time wisely. We profit nothing when we fear what the future holds, or fear what some might think of our past. It does no good at all, yet it is done everyday. Certainly time should be thoughtfully and lovingly spent with a large dose of bravery in the mix. Because here on Earth we have little time to decide where we’ll be spending eternity. As to who we should spend time with . . . time will tell.

Spending Time in Conditions of the Heart

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Spending Time in Conditions of the Heart

Good morning everyone! We are on to verse 7 in Ecclesiastes 3 this morning. If you are following along on your study map (found on my blog post A Time for Everything Under Heaven) you can see we are halfway through this awesome journey in Ecclesiastes 3. I want to thank each of you for reading my blog posts and learning along with me what God’s Word, through King Solomon’s writings, says about spending time and God’s proper timing for everything under the sun.

Ecclesiastes 3:7 says…

A time to tear and a time to mend. A time to be quiet and a time to speak.

Tearing, mending, silence, and speech…

Historically this passage refers to times of mourning and times of coming out of mourning. The Bible gives us many examples of the tearing of clothing as a sign to others that they were in this state. At St. John’s Lutheran, we are studying the book of Esther in our ladies Bible study. In Chapter 4 of Esther, Mordecai opens the scene with tearing his clothes off because he is in deep distress after learning about Haman and King Xerxes’ plot to annihilate all the Jews. This is one example God’s Word tells us about this historical act.

Ultimately the tearing of clothes had significant meaning…outward signs of the state of a person’s heart… shame, guilt, anger, grief, loss, intense pain, deep distress, sorrow, and humility. This was a powerful public expression of such emotions. This outward display of emotions was often carried out in silence but sometimes did coincide with weeping, wailing, and words.

Today, we don’t practice the act of tearing our clothes off when our hearts are hurting. We do other things… crying out to a friend or close family member, wearing dark clothing, screaming in anger… sorrow, pain and distress can be heard in our wailing and weeping, lowering our heads in humility and shame. All of these emotions can also be seen in the silent expressions on our face.

Eventually, when our lamenting is over, our heart begins to mend, just like the Jews would mend their clothes back together when their mourning was complete. The silence is broken with words of comfort, encouragement, and even laughter.

Some of us are in a state of mourning, or lamenting, as I write this blog post. Some of us are in a state of mending our hearts because the trial is over. Is it possible that we could be in both conditions in our hearts at the same time? I believe we can.

We go through so many experiences in this journey through life, all at the same time. We could be mourning the loss of close friend and also be rejoicing in the birth of a child. We can be hurt at a situation with a co-worker, but at the same time, be happy at the way the situation is handled by our boss. We can be proud of one of our children for reaching their goal and be disappointed in another for choosing the wrong path.  We can be severely angry at the way a family member is treating us… but be calm, peaceful, and level headed because we are seeking to display the Fruits of the Spirit that God has taught us.

I believe Jesus gives us the ultimate example of being in the state of both conditions when he was hanging on the cross… weeping and lamenting, crying out in pain and agony, but rejoicing in the task He knew He had to suffer as the ultimate sacrifice for all mankind, reconciling us to God.

Where are you today? In a state of mourning and lamenting over the current condition of your heart? Or are you rejoicing and mending the broken pieces back together? Or perhaps, are you in a state of both conditions?

We would love to hear the stories of your hearts… what are you are going through in this crazy thing we call life?

God loves you and so do I,

Leslie

photo courtesy of 123rf.com

 

 

 

 

 

To Keep Or Not To Keep?

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To Keep Or Not To Keep?

Good evening and welcome to tonight’s blog post. We are continuing with our study in Ecclesiastes 3, taking a look at verse 6…

A time to search and a time to stop searching. A time to keep and a time to throw away.

If you have read my blog post a few weeks back titled The Gift of Gab, you will know that I have been overwhelmed with the amount of things we have accumulated. With adult children in the house it has been difficult to keep up. (One daughter is expecting a baby in Sept. and the other just moved back home after graduating college) Verse 6 has been something that I have had on my heart for a while, especially the keeping and throwing away part. Deciding what to keep and what to get rid of has been a challenge but I have left it up to God to show me what is important and what isn’t.

I have lots of books because I love to read. I have an elaborate craft room because I love to create and do art. I have boxes of my “skinny clothes” in the attic because I have been dropping weight and want to fit into them again. (I have gone down almost two whole sizes already! Yay!) I have a lot of knickknacks, glassware, silver, and china that I have inherited or were given to me as gifts. I mean really, who needs two sets of formal china and silver in this day and age?

I have already cleaned out a considerable amount of books. God said… it’s OK, you can go to the library and get any book you need. So out they went. I have gone through my art room, gathered up the things I don’t use, and took them to church for craft supplies. God said… its OK, you are not using this stuff anyway. So out it went. Even though I have been losing weight, I went through my “skinny clothes” anyway, gathering up what I know I wont wear. God said… its OK because your taste in clothes has changed over the last 6 years and some of those clothes don’t go with your new style. Now going through the knickknacks were easy! So bye bye! God said loud and clear…you don’t like to dust them anyway. Now I am on to the glassware, silver, and china. This I was wrestling with. All of these are valuable, whether monetarily, sentimental, or both. Some of the pieces I have are from our grandmothers and were handed down to us when they passed. Some of the pieces were given to us as wedding gifts, anniversary gifts, or just gifts in general…but they all have meaning, memories attached to each one. Of these things, God has said to me…these are things you keep to remind you of memories of special events, special people, and blessings of both.

What about you? Do you have things that you need to decide…is this a time to keep or is it a time to throw away?

God loves you and so do I,

Leslie

photo courtesy of frugalandthriving.com.au

 

Dietrich Bonhoeffer on Time

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“Time lost is time when we have not lived a fully human life, time unenriched by experience, creative endeavor, enjoyment and suffering.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

A German theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer was born in 1906. He was a brilliant student, earning his doctorate at the age of 21. His dissertation was published in 1931 as “Act and Being.”€ Bonhoeffer was one of the first German Protestants to see the dangers of the Nazi rise to power. He founded a secret seminary to train pastors in an illegal anti-Nazi church he had organized. Though frien…

Date of Birth: February 04, 1906
Date of Death: September 04, 1945

Cultivating Time

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Cultivating Time

Hello! Welcome to our blog! Today in our blog post we will be continuing our study of Ecclesiastes 3 with verse 5…

A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones. A time to embrace and a time to turn away.

I will admit this verse puzzled me at first when I read it in my NLT Bible above. So I looked at what it says in The Message Bible by Eugene Peterson…

A right time to make love and another to abstain. A right time to embrace and another to part.

The Message Bible is not an exact translation, so I went into further study in my amplified Bible and it says…

A time to cast away stones and a time to gather stones. A time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing.

In pondering different versions of this passage, I couldn’t help but to think of a garden. I love gardening! So much so that I am willing to put my body at risk due to the immense nature of my outdoor allergies. (The patch of eczema on my shin that I can’t get rid of proves it! LOL) This verse makes me think of all the times in the Bible where God’s Word talks about a vineyard. A garden, or a vineyard, are the same in terms of the work it takes to cultivate it. Time to clear away the “stones” in order for the ground to be just right and time to build those “stones” back up again around the perimeter to protect it from invading pests.

As I sit here meditating on these words of King Solomon, I think about the “stones” in my heart that since becoming a Christian I have had to “cast away”… anger, bitterness, jealousy, envy, impulsiveness, idolatry… just to name a few. I also reflect on the “stones” I have had to “gather”, to rebuild my heart…love, peace, joy, trust, faith, patience, gentleness, self-control. I thank God every day that He brought me to a place in my heart where I was open to receiving Him and willing to let Him be the captain of my faith journey. After all, He isn’t called the the Lord and Giver of Life for nothing!

So now I think about the second part of this verse… to embrace or not to embrace. It seems there is a time for both of these as well. I remember times in my life when I have had to embrace situations, both good and bad. Along with that, there have been times in my life when certain situations have arisen that I simply could not embrace.

Now I wonder… what do the two parts of this verse have to do with the other?

Relationships!

In any relationship, whether it be with a friend, someone you are dating, your spouse, a family member, a co-worker, or someone you just met… relationships take a lot of work to cultivate. In order to have healthy relationships your heart has to be in the right place, sowing those good seeds we talked about in a previous blog post. Why? Because you can’t grow and produce good fruit in your garden unless you “cast away stones”, just like you won’t have healthy relationships if you have stones in your heart that get in the way.

If you are in an unhealthy relationship, how do you cultivate it to make it healthy? By “gathering stones” of a different sort. Stones that build up, not tear down. Stones that protect your heart and protect the hearts of those who you are in relationships with.

Changing ground, or relationships, to be fertile and produce good fruit, takes time. Sometimes a lifetime. God will help you . His Word contains a wealth of ideas of how to do it. Ask yourself , and God, these questions…

Do I have “stones” in my heart that are affecting my relationships? If so, how can I tear them down and build them back up again in order to cultivate good fruit?

How can I replace those “stones” with ones of a different sort, ones that protect my heart and the hearts of those around me?

Are there certain relationships in my life I should embrace and are worth taking the time to fix? Are there ones I need to turn away?

God loves you and so do I,

Leslie

photo courtesy of makeroomforgreatness.com

 

 

 

God’s Timing

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Okay, I admit it.  I hate to wait.  When I have a task, I need to get it done;  when I have an appointment, I’m there ten minutes early;  when I order a book from the library, I check my account obsessively to see if it’s come in(and then, of course, I run right over to get it).  And those are just the little things in life.  The Bible tells us over and over that we need to wait for God.  His timing is perfect, and usually when we are willing to wait, God blesses us in unexpected ways.

Here’s a small example.  My husband and I were at the AFLC annual conference in Minnesota last week, along with about 500 other folks.  My prayer partner (who belongs to another AFLC congregation) was not going, but she told me to look for her good friend, Patty.  So I did.  I peered surreptitiously at just about every name tag I saw.  I asked people I did see if they had met anyone from Patty’s church.  I considered going to the microphone and announcing “would Patty from Ruthfred please meet Joan at the back of the room” (I was actually too shy to do more than think about this option).  By the last day of the conference, I had given up.  I was just going to have to go back and tell my friend I had failed.  On our way to lunch, my husband and I stopped to chat with someone and were late getting to the cafeteria–the room was filled.  We wandered around and finally found what appeared to be the last two seats together at any table, and we took them.  Guess who I ended up sitting next to?  No other than Patty!  This is what some of my Christian friends like to call a “Godcidence.”  Patty and I were able to send my friend,GayLynn a selfie of the two of us lunching together!

My point?  Try not to stress.  God really is in control, and He’s working everything out for our good.  If I can learn to trust Him in even the small stuff, like meeting up with a friend’s friend ….then I can surely trust Him with the big stuff.

“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.”  Romans 5:6

God Moments in Ecclesiastes

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God Moments in Ecclesiastes

As I sit here in the wee hours of the morning, the sun just starting to rise above the tree line, I can’t help but to chuckle and stand in awestruck wonder. I know God has a sense of humor. He shows it to me all the time and right now is one of those moments.

I am not a morning person, far from it by any sense of the phrase and yet I sit here @ 5:45 am writing today’s next blog post in the Ecclesiastes study we have been going through. I have just gotten back from a trip to the E.R. with my 7 month pregnant daughter, Kimberly. (If you have been reading our blog, I talked about her a few posts ago) She has had very severe heartburn with this pregnancy, severe anemia, and started swelling recently so when she woke me up @ 3 in the morning in severe pain, I followed the doctors orders and took her in, worried that she might be developing pre-eclampsia because it runs in my family. As we were running out the door, something told me to grab a book off of my bookshelf and bring it with us.

You see, this was not just any book. It was my second copy of Erma Bombeck’s book Forever Erma. I have two copies of this book for a special reason. The first copy I have was given to me by my mother-in-law, Mary. (Who became my mom when I was 17, when my husband and I started dating a year after my own mother had passed away of cancer) When I went into preterm labor with our younger daughter Kirsten, she had brought the book with her to the hospital and read it to me from my bedside to help take the focus off of the pain and direct it in a positive way. I went into preterm labor a total of 9 times during my third trimester, and each time she would bring the book and read it. We would laugh, we would cry, and she would tell me stories of experiences she had with being a mother, just like the journal entries Erma Bombeck wrote down and recorded for the world to read in this book. Inside the back cover are written all the important phone numbers and notes Mom needed just in case, scribbled in her handwriting. I will never part with this book. It means the world to me, I cherish it. So when I came across a copy at Half Price Books one day for $2, I bought it, for such a time as this.

So, in keeping with tradition, I took it along with us to the hospital tonight and read it to my daughter, to help take her mind off of the pain she was experiencing and turn it into something positive. As I sped up to the emergency room, got her into the nurse’s hands, who just so happened to be outside the door bringing a wheelchair in, I quickly parked the car. As I got out, I paused for a moment and the tears started to flow. I stood there, in the silence of night, and prayed to God that my child and my unborn grandchild would be alright. I quickly wiped away my tears and headed in to join her. As we sat in the labor and delivery room, I read to her. We laughed, she shared her worry, we talked about motherhood, and when the nurse came in and heard me reading to her, she couldn’t help but smile. I was reading Erma’s journal entry from May 12, 1974 (which was written 1 month after I was born). It was titled When God Created Mothers. (If you haven’t read this book I highly recommend it) When Kimberly noticed the smile on the nurse’s face she immediately said, “It’s a tradition in our family.” and I explained why.

As we came home, and I helped get her settled, I told her I loved her, and off to bed she went. I felt the Holy Spirit nudging to me to just stay up and write my blog post now. Because I am not a morning person, I hesitated, but obediently came back to sit down at my computer. (along with a cup of coffee!) As I read the verse I had planned to do for today’s blog post, I started to cry and laugh all at the same time. Ecclesiastes 3:4 says this…

A time to cry and a time to laugh, a time to grieve and a time to dance.

Tonight, God showed me that this verse is certainly true. We can even go through it all in a short time frame, even in the span of a few hours, sitting in hospital room.

God loves you and so do I,

Leslie

 

photo courtesy of umcrp.org

 

Take Time to Laugh

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Happy Reformation Day!

“A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”  Proverbs 17:22

It’s a little strange that I’m the one pointing this out, since my side of the family is often teased for being rather glum and pessimistic.  Anyway, I just want to say, sometimes it’s good to laugh — laughing at ourselves, the world, life and whatever crazy situation we find ourselves in. Lutherans love to laugh at themselves and  the third Chapter of Ecclesiastes, which Leslie has been posting on, also tells us that there is “a time to laugh.”

Laughter is actually good for your health as well as your mood.  Here are some of the benefits I found on: http://www.organicfacts.net:

laughterinfo