Blogging is a Blessing

“I long to see you, that I might impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you–that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith,  both yours and mine.”  Romans 1:11-12

As I thought about this month’s theme, it occurred to me that the Lutheran Ladies blog has been quite a blessing in my life.  Each of us has God-given talents and spiritual gifts, and when we use them in a way that pleases Him, we feel His pleasure.  I never sit down to write a post with the feeling that it is a chore, or a burden.  I’m so thankful that God has given me an occupation in retirement that I enjoy, and that feels useful.

Writing for the blog has made me think deeply about each monthly theme, reading, studying and praying about it.  Often it helps me examine my own conscience and discover areas of my life that need improvement or attention.  It’s also interesting to hear how others think about these things, both authors and readers.  Certainly the blog has deepened my faith and understanding of God and His will for me.

Through our blogging together, I’ve developed closer relationships with the other Lutheran Ladies.  Although I knew them all before, and go to church with some of them( and went to church with others), in blogging we have shared both dreams and failures.  We’ve worked together to produce something none of us could have accomplished alone.  It has been my joy and my privilege to see each of them grow in their faith journey.

I hope and believe that this blog has been an encouragement to others, as this was our original vision.   The books we read, the quotes we love, the movies that inspire us, the songs that uplift us, the thoughts God places in our minds, and the emotions of our hearts, are all offered up to strengthen others.  As we open our lives to our readers, we are in turn blessed by the comments and kind words we receive back.  As Paul says in the quote above from Romans, we have been “mutually encouraged”.

So to all our authors and readers, today I am saying “Thank You!”  You have blessed my life in an amazing way.

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Problem or Blessing?

As I’ve been thinking about blessings this month, I’ve started to realize that feeling blessed has a lot to do with our perspective.  In other words, how do we think about things?  I’ve also learned a new phrase recently, “first world problem.”  Here’s the definition:  a minor frustration or irritation experienced by privileged people in rich countries.  Friends, think about it, most of our problems, all those things we get angry and worried about are really exactly this.  To much of the world, we’re whining about things that are pretty inconsequential.  Wouldn’t it be better when encountered with a “first world problem” to remind ourselves how really blessed we are?

Here are a few problems I encountered this week while on vacation visiting my daughter in South Carolina:

We arrived at our condo to find that due to a leak upstairs, our washer and dryer were not working!  I had to go to my daughter’s home about 20 minutes away to wash my clothes! (First world problem — how blessed am I to own a vacation home and an automatic washer and dryer in the first place!  How blessed am I to have plenty of clothing for goodness sake!  How blessed am I to have children who will help me out!)

We decided to meet our daughter for lunch at a favorite restaurant only to find out that it had closed!  What a disappointment!  We love their crab soup!  (First world problem– all we had to do was select another restaurant, there are many choices.  Aren’t we blessed to have a choice of foods and be able to afford to eat out at all?)

Here’s a good one:  our apartment in South Carolina does not have Wi-Fi.  We’re so used to this convenience, it’s annoying to be unable to look something up on google or check my email instantly (or write a blog post as soon as inspiration strikes).  Instead we had to make a trip to the library to use the computer. (First world problem!  Aren’t we incredibly blessed to have a library where we can not only use our computer — which we are blessed to own– but borrow books and movies at no cost.)

Well, you get the idea.  I don’t have to worry about having food for my next meal, shelter from the weather, or transportation.  I have resources to share.  I’m not alone in the world, I have family and friends around me.  Most of all, I have the church and the gospel. God has provided me with all that I need and more.  From now on, when I’m tempted to complain about one of those “first world problems” I’m going to count my blessings instead.  What about you?

 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?  Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life” (Matt 6:25-27)?

 

“Hello – It Is Not Christmas Yet”

Okay, so I admit I am a little perturbed at all the Christmas stuff going on.  I can not even turn on the radio without hearing Christmas music.  First off, I am not a grinch, I just wish the true season of Advent would get its just attention.

The Advent season is important too, it is the time we Christians are suppose to be in prayer and study for the arrival of Jesus.  But as we are typical, we do not want to wait, we want it now, so we put up the tree, turn on the music and shop til we drop.

I ask all to remember that this season is NOT about the tree, lights, decorations, presents or even the feasts planned – Advent is our time of anticipation, desire to see and joy at the upcoming arrival of our Lord.  DO NOT rush this season – savor with anticipation the coming – look forward with joy to His words – and sincerely appreciate the best gift ever given which was His life for our sins,

DO NOT RUSH

SAVOR
ANTICIPATE

APPRECIATE

Enjoy the Advent season more thoroughly and you may find that Christmas is all the more precious.

 

God Loves You And So Do I

 

Michele

Happy Thanksgiving!

Today is the day that we all sit down with family and eat and eat and eat.  While we’re doing that I have a few things that I’d like all of us to think about.  Part of this month’s theme has gluttony in it.  Gluttony is usually associated with food, but let’s take it to the next level.

Thanksgiving is all about being thankful for what we have.  Gluttony is the opposite of that.  Webster defines is as “greedy or excessive indulgence”.  So why talk about this on Thanksgiving?  We, as a people, need to learn to be thankful for what we have and be content.  The marketing companies in this country are always about having more, or better.  We find ourselves wanting more.

I’ve been there.  We were pretty poor, on Food Stamps and Assistance.  One year the local church came with a box of food, a turkey with all the trimmings.  Needless to say, I cried, and I felt so humble.  Here I was feeling bitter because we couldn’t afford the whole meal and the Lord stepped in and had these wonderful people bring it to me.  Yes, I was very thankful that year.

But I still wanted more out of life.  I wanted the house, the car, the job…  all the things that this world tells us we must have.  Didn’t matter that we had a roof over our heads, food to eat and a vehicle to drive.  I wanted better.  I won’t go into how the Lord brought me to where I am today, but let’s just say that life has never been easy for me.

Through all these years I’ve learned to be content.  Content with what I have, which is more than what many others have.  I have a wonderful family, a roof over my head, food to eat and a loving church family.  What more could I want?

Come To The Table

I have recently been hearing this song on the radio and it strikes a chord deep inside – Remember He came for the sick and sinful – of which I am one. So come join me at His table I look forward to seeing you there.

“Come To The Table”

We all start on the outside
The outside looking in
This is where grace begins
We were hungry, we were thirsty
With nothing left to give
Oh the shape that we were in
Just when all hope seemed lost
Love opened the door for us

He said come to the table
Come join the sinners who have been redeemed
Take your place beside the Savior
Sit down and be set free
Come to the table

Come meet this motley crew of misfits
These liars and these thiefs
There’s no one unwelcome here
So that sin and shame that you brought with you
You can leave it at the door
Let mercy draw you near

Come to the table
Come join the sinners who have been redeemed
Take your place beside the Savior
Sit down and be set free
Come to the table
Come to the table

To the thief and to the doubter
To the hero and the coward
To the prisoner and the soldier
To the young and to the older
All who hunger, all who thirst
All the last and all the first
All the paupers and the princes
All who fail you’ve been forgiven
All who dream and all who suffer
All who loved and lost another
All the chained and all the free
All who follow, all who lead
Anyone who’s been let down
All the lost you have been found
All who have been labeled right or wrong
To everyone who hears this song

Ooh
Come to the table
Come join the sinners you have been redeemed
Take your place beside the Savior
Sit down and be set free
Oooh
Sit down and be set free
Come to the table
Come to the table
Just sit down and rest a while
Just sit down and rest a while
Come to the table

Credit for song to Sidewalk Prophets

Making the Most of Time

If you read through Chapter 5 of Ephesians, you’ll get some advice about spending time.

  1. Be imitators of God;  walk in love and sacrifice yourself for others
  2. Stay away from immorality of all kinds (this includes silly talk, covetousness ,impurity and drunkenness, not just the “big” sins)
  3. Give thanks to God for everything. Praise Him with music.
  4. Don’t be deceived by false teaching, or associate with those who are.  Look to Christ for the truth about things
  5. Be filled with the Holy Spirit

“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise men, but as wise, making the most of the time because the days are evil.  Therefore, do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”  Ephesians 5:15

If we’ve studied the Bible, learned from Christian teachers and pastors, we really have no excuse for wasting our time.  We know what it is to serve God;  we know certain things are His will, and others are clearly not.  Often we just choose to do something else. Often we tell ourselves, everyone does it, it can’t be so bad. We think there will be plenty of time to repent and  make things right with God.  Sadly this is not always the case.  And the further we walk away from God, the harder it is to come back.

The best advice for spending time?  You hear it every Sunday at the end of the service:

Go in peace, serve the Lord! 

If you do this, you can be part of God’s redemption story.  What better way to use your time?

 

Remembering Old Friends

“Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.”  Proverbs 27:17

I was recently looking some old file folders with information I kept about Via de Cristo.  It reminded me of many of the people with whom I served on retreat teams, met in small groups, planned activities and served the Lord.  Many of these folks were part of my church family.  It was a busy and productive season of my life.  Now I go to another church, where my husband is the Pastor.  I’m still in touch with some of those friends, but others have moved or just moved on.  Life changes.

However, thinking about them reminds me of how influential our friends are in encouraging us in our Christian walk.  Being in an accountability group (Via de Cristo calls them reunion groups) makes it harder to procrastinate or slack off in our spiritual disciplines.  Having a close group of friends to help you when you have an idea you’d like to try (like this blog) is encouraging, too.  There are so many things I’ve done that I would never have dared try without my friends.  There are so many insights I would have missed without them there to notice and tell me.  My friends gave me confidence;  they prayed for me;  they loved me and supported me even when I messed up. They were God’s gift to me.

So today I am remembering and give thanks for all my friends, old and new:  for the things they have to teach me and the many ways they help me in my Christian journey.  Don’t be a lone ranger Christian.  Take friends with you wherever you walk.

“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil.  For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow;  but woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up.  Again, if two lie together, they are warm;  how can one be warm alone?  And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him.  A threefold cord is not quickly broken.”  Ecclesiastes 4:9-12