Who Me?

I’m a Saint?  No way….  I am no where near sainthood.  I struggle with so much, daily Bible reading, daily prayer, loving on everyone I meet.  I can’t be a Saint.  But the Bible says I am.

When I hear the word saint I think of Theresa of Calcutta.  Now there is a Saint, working in Calcutta to help the poor.  Wow.  What about the missionaries out there who risk their lives everyday to bring Christ to the world?  I don’t measure up.  I can’t be a saint.  But the Bible says I am.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

OH.  I’m a Saint through Grace!  Thank the Lord.  I know that I’d never measure up.

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You Say

Have you ever fought those feelings that make you feel like God is distant?  You can’t get close to the Lord?  You wonder if he’s even out there or if he even cares?  Maybe you’re going through a rough time right now and just can’t connect with God?

Even though it may be one of the hardest things to do you must believe that God’s in control.  He knows you better than you know yourself.  Our job is to get to know God through His Word.  This is so hard when you are going through a bad time.  I know, because I’ve been there.  There were days when I wondered if God even heard my pleas.  Then I would take a deep breath, close my eyes and just let peace be what I ask for.

The song “You Say” by Lauren Daigle says all this very well.  I believe….

 

 

Mi Casa Uptown – a review

Mi Casa Uptown: Learning to Love Again by Rich Pérez is a good read if you are thinking, or are in, a urban setting or if you are thinking about doing missions work in the city.

Rich Pérez is from New York City; Washington Heights to be exact.  He left there to go to college and seminary and then returned to his neighborhood because he feels deeply about connecting with neighbors.  In this book he explains how we’ve become disconnected to our neighbors and how, with God’s help, we can become connected again.

One point that Rich makes that hit with me was that to engage in any community, humility is needed:

“Humility is a posture that demands intentionality and sacrifice; it demands a compelling example.  It’s sacrifice and not entitlement that inspires authentic relationship.  In the end, thriving communities are not monolithic communities, where one group or culture runs the show.  Instead, the kind of humility I’m referring to is revolutionary – quite literally helping to shift the way neighborhoods exist.  Humility inspires people to live differently toward on another and, more important, honors the stories that have existed before your own by dignifying them rather disregarding them.”

Even though I enjoyed this book, I had a hard time relating to it.  I come from a rural background and have never really engaged the Hispanic community.  Even so, I found quite a few “take-aways” about how to live in community.  I give this book a solid three stars.

But What If Chaos Reigns?

Joan has been blogging about the upheaval in their lives, the mess, the inconvenience.  I feel badly that this has happened to Joan, but a part of me smiles when she describes what she’s going through.  My life is always chaos and I’ve learned to live in it.

Starting with losing our home in 1992 and having to move; we were almost truly homeless, but for the Grace of God.  My husbands terminal diagnoses in 1999, my son losing his job around 2008 and he and his family moving in with us.  My husband’s death in 2015 and just this year my house was hit by a car!

I don’t live a quiet, peaceful life.  There is always something happening that seems to demand my attention.  How have I learned to live like this?  Trusting that God’s got this and He will see me through.  When I was growing up and throughout my young adult life I thought that my life would settle down, husband, kids, living a good quiet life.  This did not happen…  Oh, the husband and kids happened, but quiet?  No.  It’s always been one thing after another.

To help keep my environment on a somewhat even keel I would take steps to keep my eyes on Jesus.  An hour of quiet, just me time away from my house.  Listening to the local christian radio station for uplifting music and some bible teaching on my drive to and from work.  Going to church regularly.  These are some of the things I put into my life to keep my spirits up and my eyes on the Lord.  These actions are intentional.  I’m working to put more intentional things in my life like regular bible study and prayer time.

If your life sounds like mine, you have to be intentional to keep your environment on a sane level.  It’s hard to put in place but keep at it.  These things will eventually become habitual.  Then when chaos reigns, you can continue to smile and say “God’s got this!”

 

Actions Speak Louder than Words…

Preach the Gospel at all times. Use words if necessary.

Yesterday I posted the song “Do Something” by Matthew West.  Not all of us are able to drop everything and run to another country to help spread the Gospel.  We are where the Lord has planted us and I’m sure if he wanted us to run off to another place to spread the Gospel He’d let us know.

Everyday we should go about our lives, being the hands and feet of Jesus.  Much of the time we don’t have to “preach”.  We just need to be.  I have a story I want to share that showed me how much this is true.

One Thanksgiving week quite a few years back, I got a call from my boss.  We were both off work that week for the holiday and she had never called me at home before.  She told me her husband had died in his sleep that morning.  She had woken up to find him in their bed, deceased.  She was quite shocked and upset.  I was being supportive on the phone with her and in the back of my mind I was wondering why she had called me.  Then she said “Would you pray for me?” I guess I could have said that I’d keep her in my prayers (and I did), but I just said of course and started praying.  I did offer to come to her but she had her sister coming and that was good.  I didn’t want her to be alone.

I don’t “preach” at work.  I don’t even have scripture hanging around my desk.  She knew that I was active in my church and that I sometimes took off from work to go on church retreats (Via de Cristo).  We may have had small conversations about faith.  But I was floored that she came to me and asked me to pray for her.

So keep in mind that as you go out into your world that you are “preaching” the Gospel whether you are talking or not.

“Even unto death”

Revelation 2:10

Holman Christian Standard Bible
“Don’t be afraid of what you are about to suffer. Look, the Devil is about to throw some of you into prison to test you, and you will have affliction for 10 days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.”

We go to church, read our bible, go to Sunday school, we pray, and go about our lives with our human knowledge and human sight; and seemingly unfortunate lack of ability to see into the future. Psychologists talk about children and teenagers not being able to “see around corners.” What they mean (I think) is that kids don’t know how to think ahead far enough to foresee the end result of their current actions. When we ask why they would jump off of  the couch onto their little brother, expecting them to know, we as the adults are actually doing so in folly. They really don’t know, and couldn’t predict harm. Their brains aren’t done growing, and they didn’t (previously) have the context to realize what could happen. But we adults have experience that allows us to see ahead, and logically predict results. That’s a benefit right?

Well that depends. Children who can’t see possible harm, also trust that it will work out. And really it usually does, even when flawed parents drop the ball. (And that I do.) They believe that things will be okay. Children believe it even unto to death. Christian parents know this well, however if for some reason we have to live through the ‘even unto death’ part . . . we find it almost impossible to see around the corner and believe it will be okay. Our adult minds, with our adult experiences have given us reason to think it might not be. And its much easier to accept ‘even unto death’ if it’s our own.

But when we’re faced with the death of a loved one, it’s so much harder. We can’t see them, nor can we logically predict our lives without them. The thing is we don’t have to be logical when it comes to trusting God. We don’t have to know everything, we don’t have to do anything. We can mess up everyday, be happy, be sad, maybe be on our game; just hold out hope in Christ. Let go and be faithful until death, and God will give us the crown of life.

Piety Part 1- by Jim Edgel

The following are excerpts from a talk on Piety given by Jim Edgel – They have been reprinted with his permission:

Piety is a word we rarely use and may think of it in a negative way such as the “pious” ways of the Pharisees.  But authentic Christian piety is a very good thing.  In fact, if we explain the life Jesus led, it was a life of true piety.  Brothers, as we become filled with the Holy Spirit, God calls each one of us to a new life, and this involves a radical change from within.  This change alters our relationship with:  Our self, with God, with other people, and with the world, we live in together.  We see ourselves differently, knowing that no matter how broken we may be, we are forgiven and very valuable to God.  We have a new direction for our lives as children of God, full of marvelous capabilities.  We begin to see other people through God’s eyes, loving them as brothers and sisters who were created with the same potential that God has given to us.  And as we continue to transform; we see our world, as messed up as it may be, as God’s gift to us, given for our enjoyment and care.  When we speak of piety, we are speaking of a full response in all areas of our life to God’s amazing love and grace. We must seek a personal relationship with God, not just knowing about God … But knowing who God is.  Being Christian, not just doing Christian things.  How can we discover our God-given potential and be the complete person that God calls us to be as we live a life of grace?  This consists of balancing three key dimensions of our lives.  All three are equally important and it takes all three, working together, giving equal stability and balance in order to support us as we live in a close relationship with God.  To better understand the importance of Piety in our daily walks as Christians; which includes taking the Good News of Jesus Christ and Him crucified for you and me to the world, we must understand the difference between authentic piety and false piety. Authentic piety is an intimate, revitalizing deepening relationship with God. Jesus explains this to us.  You may remember reading in the Gospel of Matthew when the Pharisees gathered to question Jesus and one of the group asked Him which was the greatest commandment in the law.  And Jesus using His words with great precision, as always, not only answers their question, He explains authentic piety and sums up all the commandments in three sentences.  22nd chapter of Matthew verses 37, 38, 39 – And Jesus said to him “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the great and first commandment.  And a second is like it:  You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”False piety is a superficial, inaccurate or deceptive practice that appears to be Christian.  False piety is destructive.  It distracts and diverts people from seeking and knowing God.  It prevents them from finding and living the fulfilled life God has planned for them.  Friends … any of us can respond to God’s call in either of two ways.  We can follow a path of faith and commitment as Paul described in his letter to the Colossians “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” Or we can devote ourselves to religious, regulations and practices that mark us as “A good Christian” who does “Christian” things.  Those who take this path do not understand the role of God’s grace in the lives of those who are in a relationship with Him.

More to follow