Does the World’s Environment Change?

Sometimes we agree with that famous quote from A Tale of Two Cities, 

“It was the best of all times and the worst of all times.”

We look around and see deep divisions between people of different ethnic and religious groups, scammers, fake news, wars and immigration problems.  Recently I read a book about the famous “Siamese twins,” Eng and Chang.  They became Americans and lived through the Civil War.  The author followed the personal and professional life of the twins, and the history of the times in which they lived.  Guess what?  Many of the problems that worry and distress us today were around then as well.

At that time, the nation was divided politically, economically and racially.  I imagine many citizens could not imagine how the United States could come back together and truly become one again.  Resentments and economic problems abounded.  The scammers of that day were men like P.T. Barnum who preyed on the public’s appetite for the bizarre and unusual, and Yankee peddlers who sold useless remedies to gullible customers.  Fake news was around too, as newspapers then saw how sensational (although fictitious) stories fueled sales.  There were immigration issues as well–but they centered around the Chinese rather than Mexicans.

My point?  The worldly environment will never be perfect.  The “good old days” weren’t really so good.  The Bible tells us that:

What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 1:9)

We can’t change the fact that sin is in the world and will remain with us until Jesus comes again.  However, we can make positive changes in ourselves, and those changes will affect the environment around us.  Go in peace and serve the Lord!

P.S. If you are interested in reading the book I mentioned it is Inseparable:  The Original Siamese Twins and Their Rendezvous with History by Yunte Huang

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New Month – New Theme

Wow, it is hard to believe February has come and gone already.  We are all currently in the season of Lent, that period of sacrifice that leads up to the Good Friday, and thankfully Easter.

I hope you have found the posts this past month to be fun, enlightening and most importantly – true to God’s word.  For the month of March it seems appropriate to talk about direction.  You know what I mean – Are you sure where you are going?

Let me put it another way – Are you in the non smoking or smoking section?

Follow us this month and let us help you figure it out if you are not sure.

 

As always

God Loves You And So Do We

Michele

Undeserved Love #2

My husband and I often borrow DVDs from our local library, and recently we began watching some of the classic musicals.  We started with “My Fair Lady.”  You may recall that this play (originally Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw) tells the story of a language professor who through training, betters the speech of a flower girl (Eliza Doolittle) to such a great extent that she can successfully masquerade as a fine lady.  In the movie, Eliza’s father describes himself as being one of the “underserving poor.”

No, no, I can’t afford ’em, gov’ner. Neither could you if you was as poor as me. Not that I mean any ‘arm, mind you, but if Eliza’s getting a bit out of this, why not me too? Eh? Why not? Well, look at it my way – what am I? I ask you, what am I? I’m one of the undeserving poor, that’s what I am. Now think what that means to a man. It means that he’s up against middle-class morality for all of time. If there’s anything going, and I puts in for a bit of it, it’s always the same story: “you’re undeserving, so you can’t have it.” But my needs is as great as the most deserving widows that ever got money out of six different charities in one week for the death of the same ‘usband. I don’t need less than a deserving man, I need more! I don’t eat less ‘earty than ‘e does, and I drink, oh, a lot more. I’m playin’ straight with you. I ain’t pretendin’ to be deserving. No, I’m undeserving. And I mean to go on being undeserving. I like it and that’s the truth

Read more: http://stageagent.com/monologues/616/my-fair-lady/alfred-p-doolittle#ixzz562eN4vQd

Of course, we find this laughable — who would admit, even be proud of the fact that he’s undeserving.  Actually what he says is quite true.  The underserving need help even more than the deserving, and guess what?  Folks, we are all one of the undeserving in God’s eyes.  Sometimes, like Alfred Doolittle, we even like our sin.  We’re usually not so honest about it though.  We prefer to think “we’re good people” who are “doing the best we can.”  That’s what a Pastor I used to know called “stinking thinking.”  The Apostle Paul in the book of Romans tells us:

“None is righteous, no not one;  no on understands;  no one seeks for God.  All have turned aside;  together they have become worthless;  no one does good, not even one.”  Romans 3:10-12

Love, Died, Cross, Thorns, Crown, Heart, Bible, Shadow

Fortunately for us, the undeserving, there is good news:

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.  For one will scarcely die for a righteous person– though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die–but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Romans 5:6-8

Be honest.  Admit you’re undeserving.  Then rejoice in the gift God gave you and love others in the same way.

Who Do You Fear?

Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Matt. 10:28

I’ve started reading a book by Piper Kerman, Orange is the New Black;  maybe you’ve heard of it.  Piper is the typical upper middle class girl.  She graduates from college, and unfortunately is attracted to the wrong person — a woman whose life seems exciting and adventurous.  turns out her lifestyle is funded by drug money.  She invites Piper to travel with her as she manages drug mules and money laundering couriers in exotic places;  it’s fun … for a while.  Eventually Piper is put into a situation where she crosses the line and delivers a suitcase full of dirty money for her friend.  The stress and fear she experiences while committing this act wakes her up to the fact that she’s in over her head, so she flees.  She moves, gets a regular job, reconnects with family and eventually is engaged to a nice young man.  She’s recovered her “normal” life and nobody  is aware of that brief, foolish, lapse in judgement.

Ten years later federal agents knock on her door to tell her she is being indicted for drug trafficking.  At this point she must confess to her fiancé and family.  She is humbled and embarrased as she agrees to plead guilty to a charge of money laundering and serve three years in prison.  Then something even worse happens — shortly after sentencing, her date with prison in postponed indefinitely, as the authorities want her to be available to testify against one of the drug kingpins “in street clothes, not an orange jumpsuit.”

Okay, I’m finally getting to the point.  For years Piper lives with a jail sentence hanging over her.  Can you imagine how awful that would be?  She knew she had committed a crime and she was going to prison, she just didn’t know when or where.  It was a miserable way to live. I could empathize with her pain and terror, trying to lead a normal life, yet knowing the punishment that was waiting for her.  But, think about it, without Jesus, wouldn’t we be in the very same situation?

Like Piper, we go on living our lives, telling ourselves that our sins don’t have consequences.  They’re not big sins anyway.  Just the kind of things we fell into without really thinking;  things somebody else lured into;  things that happened when we were young and inexperienced.  We foolishly think we’ll never be called to account.

The Bible tells a different story.  Judgement is hanging over us and we don’t know when it will come.  Most of us, like Piper, would be terrified at the thought of going to prison, even for a short time — so why aren’t we worried about spending eternity separated from God?  Piper was humbled before an earthly judge;  at some future date, we’ll all bow before the Lord God Almighty!  She was pathetically grateful for those who spoke up for her in order to reduce her sentence because she knew what she really deserved — how grateful should we be to Jesus who died to save us from the fate awaiting us?

Christmas is a time to rejoice in the good news that our sentence has been commuted, thanks to the God who came as a helpless baby, willing to bear our punishment. We’ve been released from the penalty of sin. We don’t have an eternity of darkness hanging over us.  Now we need to live a life that reflects gratitude for that grace.  Let’s make a New Year’s resolution to appreciate the gift we’ve received.

 

“The Oath” by Frank Peritti

My mom gave me this book a couple of years ago and I finally read it about 6 or 7 months ago. I was expecting the usual horror genre we usually exchange, but was I in for a shock.

This is a fictional story that addresses the very real sin that dwells within each of us.   What makes The Oath memorable is its metaphor for sin and how it can numb the sinner.   Peretti’s dragon is a great analogy for how sin blends in around us and works almost unseen until it devours us.  His opening remark “Sin is the monster we love to deny”  is absolutely brilliant.

I won’t say too much, since this book is hard to explain without giving spoilers, but I will say that The Oath is a deep, thought-provoking novel with a theme that sticks with you long after you’ve read the final page. It’s creepy, as in don’t-read-before-bed creepy, and is definitely not a fun, light read. But I love how Frank Peretti isn’t afraid to include overt Christian themes in his books.

 

 

 

 

Good Stewards Travel Light

Lessons I Learned in the Light: All You Need to Thrive in a Dark WorldA friend at church loaned me a book I’ve been using recently for my morning devotional time.  It’s called “Lessons I Learned in the Light” by Jennifer Rothschild.  This morning’s chapter was titled “Carry No Baggage” and it got me thinking about how as good stewards, we need to travel light.  We can’t take care of God’s stuff if we’re too worried about our own stuff.  Maybe you’re thinking about now, didn’t the Lutheran Ladies say it’s all God’s stuff?  Well, here’s the thing …all the good things are God’s, but there are still plenty of bad things that belong to us alone.  They start with that little word SIN.  Do you notice what’s in the middle of the word sin?  The letter “I.”  Sin happens when we’re turned into ourselves, when life becomes all about me, me, me.

What baggage are you carrying around?  It might be selfishness (that’s a big one for me), failure to forgive, anger, destructive habits you don’t want to give up, pride, lack of trust  and more.  All these things weigh us down and keep us from focusing on God, the good gifts He gives, and the people He wants us to serve.

Thankfully there’s a simple way to get rid of that excess cargo.  Confess.  Let God take care of your stuff, and then you’ll be free to take care of His.  We get to do this every Sunday in our worship service, not as a work of our own, but as a reminder that God has already forgiven all our sins for the sake of His son, Jesus.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9

Confess so you can focus on the good things of God.  Travel light.

 

I don’t get what I deserve.

What I deserve is Hell. Really, the ten commandments show me how true that is. According to law, I deserve nothing but punishment for the sins that I can’t help but commit. I’m selfish, I’m an ungrateful child, I’m inconsiderate . . . A glutton. For sure Sarah, the christian is not an iota better than her peers.

Yet for all my shortcomings, what makes me different is that I know something. I know Christ Jesus came and redeemed me. Linkin Park sings in one of my favorite songs,

“So let mercy come and wash away
What I’ve done
I’ll face myself to cross out what I’ve become
Erase myself
And let go of what I’ve done”
I wonder if they knew that Jesus is Mercy? I wonder if they knew when they wrote these words that Jesus does and did, wash away what we’ve done? I wonder too if they knew that they didn’t have to face themselves alone. Cuz, when we are left alone to meditate on our mistakes, it is truly unbearable. I certainly hope everyone comes to have the knowledge, that erasing ones self and letting go of what we’ve done, is only fully possible when Jesus does it for us. I know I deserve hell and the pain that comes with it. I also know (through the Holy Spirit) that Jesus saved me from that fate.
Thank the Lord almighty I don’t get what I deserve.
That being said, you now understand (I think) my perspective when I tell you that as I cancelled my appointment for a Spinal Cord Simulator ( https://www.spine-health.com/video/spinal-cord-stimulator-implant-video ) I did with faith. Faith that God knows what I go through. Faith that God is using my story for His good. Faith that one day I will get better than I deserve.
I passed the tests, I got approved, and it wasn’t enough. We came ten percent shy of being able to get it done. And time is almost out. Next year begins new deductibles and new hope. It’ll get done, or it won’t. And tomorrow me and my gimpy leg will wake up and move. I know what I deserve. And I know I’ve got it good. No one but God and I can see my pain, and that holds true with many others out there suffering and struggling with whatever.
 2 Corinthians 11:29&30
  29″ Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not burn with indignation? 30 If I must boast, I will boast about the things that show my weakness. “
Philippians 1:21
“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”