From My Heart

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight. – Proverbs 3:5-6 -NIV

Archive for February, 2011

A Day of Rejoicing and Sadness

Today is a day of sadness but also a day for great rejoicing. How can both be true you ask?
The mother of my dear friend passed away in the wee hours of the morning. We are all grieving this wonderful woman because we will miss her. However it is also a reason for celebration. She is with our Lord and will be forever at peace. There is no doubt in our minds about that. She is singing his praises and who knows maybe even playing the organ! She is no longer in pain; she has a perfect and eternal body. Yes, there are a lot of mixed emotions.
I want to take a few moments here to remember this woman who I had the honour of getting to know. Even though I only knew her for 6 years she had an impact on my life.
She was a kind and gentle woman who was eager to help when she saw a need. Even if she didn’t feel up to attending a function she was always anxious to contribute something. One example is when women who attended the fall ladies retreat were treated to her banana muffins for breakfast. Our family and many others have been blessed on more than one occasion with her ever so famous lemon meringue pies. The list could go on and on…….Oh and don’t forget the Women’s Hospital Auxiliary bake sales! Her baking was always a great hit.
During the growing season she was busy canning and freezing fruits and vegetables for the winter. Who am I going to give my excess rhubarb to now? That was her industrious side.
There was another side to her. She loved her God and Jesus. No matter what you were talking about be it flowers, baking or sewing she would bring the conversation back around to thanking God for it all. This woman didn’t just talk her faith; she lived it. Yes, she liked it when I would praise her pies. She would smile and say thank you. But she would be quick to praise God that she was still able to do it. I loved to listen to her stories about how she came to know the Lord and how the red church on the hill came to be. She thanked God for the life he allowed her; for her husband and children. There were sad stories she shared with me as well and her eyes would tear up. But then again she would thank the Lord for helping her through those sad times and say she knew that somehow God used them for good as well.
I thank God that I was blessed to know this woman. I pray that I won’t forget her “old fashioned ways” of making a home and loving her Lord. Oh yes, I will miss her.

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The Charge Against You: Being a Christian

I looked up the definition of Christian in a dictionary. One definition was “one who follows the teachings of Jesus Christ. Another entry is, “one who exhibits a spirit proper to a follower of Jesus Christ; Christlike”.

I heard a report of a survey taken on a university campus. Two questions were posed. The first being “What is your opinion of Jesus Christ? There were no negative responses. Although many did not see Him as their savior they did say He was a good man, He was kind, He cared for others. ”The second question was “What do you think of Christians?” A large percentage gave a negative response.

Are we who claim to be Christ followers adhering to His teachings? In John chapter 14 Jesus is speaking to His disciples telling them that He won’t be with them on earth much longer. He is giving them some final instructions and words of wisdom; things that He believes to be most important for them to understand. In verses 34-35 He says “A new command I give to you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” From the survey report taken on the university campus it seems that Christians aren’t doing a very good job of showing the world we are Jesus’ disciples.

People still hold grudges against their fellow-Christians. People still argue in the church to the point where they have had more hurtful things said to them inside of the church than outside of it. Others have said that there is more unconditional love in the local bar than in the church. That pains me to hear these things. We are supposed to ambassadors for Christ!

Now we come to the question of how we treat others outside the church walls. Do our daily lives reflect the life of Jesus who we claim to follow? Jesus is known for kindness, compassion, service to others. How are we carrying on His work?

God has been pressing me to take a good hard look at my own “followership”. I am checking my attitude, my words, my actions toward others and especially my thought life. I certainly have not reached a state of perfection. I still let careless words escape out of my mouth; oh how I wish I could take those back. I have been erasing the “record of wrongs” for I am daily reminded that Christ doesn’t keep that record about me.

Here are a couple of passages out of God’s word to contemplate.

“For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” Galatians 3: 26-27

If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Philippians 2:1-5

How do you treat the people you encounter, how do you prioritize your days, what is the driving force behind everything you do? Believe it or not what you do will impact everyone around you. It’s more important than you think.

I would like to pose a question I have heard a few times “If you were charged with being a Christian would there be enough evidence in your conduct to convict you?” Will men know we are Jesus’ disciple by the way we love?

I’ve been watching you!

A few years ago someone said to me “I’ve been watching you”. Those words sent a chill down my spine. This young woman was going to be moving away in a few days. She was thanking me for helping her through a rough time. She said that I had been an inspiration to her as she watched me react to difficult situations in a Christ-like manner. I was pleased and humbled by her words. However when she said “I’ve been watching” I realized the huge responsibility I had. I claim the name of Jesus and the world is indeed watching!

How do we react in any given situation? When someone wrongs us do we respond with love? Just as our actions/reactions reflect on our earthly family they also reflect on our Heavenly Father! I would say even more so. “But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.” Colossians 3:8-10

Recently I read a post from a professing Sister in Christ using profanity and cutting remarks on Facebook. She wanted the world to know how she had been wronged and how angry she was. Then 4 days later she posted “if you are a Christian and aren’t afraid to admit it repost this”. It broke my heart to see this all unfold. I can only imagine how it must grieve our Father when His children conduct themselves like this. We are called to show Christ to the world. It’s no mystery to me that The world who is watching us has a poor opinion of Christianity. The way we treat others and the words we speak carry so much weight. There is so much potential to do irreparable damage to an individual and our own personal witness.
“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Ephesians 4:29
“What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.” Matthew 15:11

Your witness is more than your words. You actions speak volumes. How do we react when we have a task to do that we dislike or if something extra comes our way that we had not planned on?
“Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation. Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky” Philippians 2:14-15

My desire is to be a good reflection of my Heavenly Father, to not bring any shame to the Family of God. It is my responsibility to conduct myself in a manner that is pleasing to God. I must. as a child of God bring my actions and words in alignment with what He would have me do. It is a proven fact that if you spend a great deal of time with someone you get to know them well and tend to pick up some of their personality traits. I want to know God more and “pick up His traits”.

Does God call me friend?

Recently I had lengthy conversation with someone about true friendship. The term “friend” is used way too loosely in my opinion. What is a friend? Is it someone you socialize with? That is how the word friend is most often used today. I would argue that is not a friend. That is an acquaintance.

The test of a true friend is trust, consideration, putting their needs before their own. They will be there to help without any expectations of anything in return. There will be no excuses of being too busy when you really need them. In that time they will support you even when the rest of the world opposes you. You may have lots of acquaintances but true friends are rare. If you become a true friend to someone you will be blessed in return. I have been blessed with one true friend. I thank God for her often.

I went home after this discussion about friendship and began pondering it. I thought about God calling Abraham friend. “And the scripture was fulfilled that says “Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness and he was called God’s friend.” You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone. James 2:23-24

That spurred my thoughts even more.. My dear friend is not a true friend just because she or I think she is. She is a true friend because of her actions. What she says and does shows the true intentions of her heart.
Proverbs 17:17 says that a friend loves at all times. Do I love God at all times; good or bad? My friend and I look forward to spending time together. When we do we listen closely to each other. Do I look forward to spending time with God? Do I do all the talking? Or do I take time to listen to him like I do with my friend?
When God asks me to do something do I worry about what I will get in return; how much will it cost me or what others will think of me? Do I believe and trust in God as Abraham did? The answers to these questions will show my true heart and commitment to my God. There could be no better; truer friend than Him. Does God call me friend?

Have you been called?

Some definitions of calling from the Webster’s on-line dictionary:

1. The action of a person or thing that calls.
2. Vocation, profession, or trade: What is your calling?
3. A call or summons: He had a calling to join the church
4. A strong impulse or inclination: She did it in response to an inner calling.

In Christian circles you may hear someone say “I was called to this ministry” or “He has a calling on his life”. When you hear this you may think, “How admirable that is. I wish I was that spiritually mature to be used by God in that way.” Or, your reaction may be “I could NEVER be called out by God. I’m not able to work for Him.” If you are a child of God and believe either of these statements, you are mistaken. The day you asked Jesus Christ to be your Savior you were doing so because He was calling you. God continues to call you. He has a mission for you. When Jesus was about to leave this earth He gave us all a mission. In Matthew 28: 19-20 He gave us our marching orders. “Therefore go and make disciple of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” Why do you suppose this was among Jesus’ final words? These words were Jesus call to every one of His followers, not just the “special” few. These are the very words that should direct our daily lives.

What would our lives look like if we had a clear picture of the call of life and people God has set before us? What would our Sunday mornings look like if we came together understanding the call God has placed on our lives and were totally sold out to that call? These questions should be seriously considered by each of His followers. These Words from our Lord were not meant as a suggestion for something to do “in our spare time.” This is not a call to action for a select few; all of us must play a part. We are all “called”. Some are called to be missionaries in far off places but more are called to be missionaries right where they live in their everyday lives. If we ignore what we were placed here to do we become faithless, we wander aimlessly and even get a bit cranky. We become a people that do not reveal Christ to others.

I encourage you to do a personal inventory with prayer and meditation. What has God specifically spoken to you about the purposes He has for you? What abilities and strengths has God blessed you with that you could use to further His work?

How many days do we ignore God altogether or at best say a quick God help me? How would our lives change if we started each day with thanks to God and asking “God, what would you have me do today?” God has given us all exactly what we need. He formed us all to do our part in His mission. Let us all be good stewards of our gifts and use them for His glory. We are called to further His kingdom. Let us be obedient to that call on our lives. Let us all hear from our master “Well done, good and faithful servant!” Matthew 25:21.

Jesus the Peacemaker

No matter what God takes you to He will provide a way for you to make it through. I have heard that statement countless times in my life. To some extent I believed it but I am very sad to admit that for many years in my life I never even gave God the chance to be true to His word. I thought that it sounded good but my problems were too big; I had made too much of a mess of my life. I must get it straightened out on my own. I not only didn’t get things straightened out but they got more twisted. When God is not in control things never go as well as they should. Sure for a time it all seems good. You think yes, I am beginning to get this taken care of. Then another storm hits. And we are crying as the disciples did. The storm is raging. The disciples in the boat ran for their Lord, asleep in the back of the boat. “Lord, we are drowning; help us!” You remember the story well. He arose, the Mighty Man who made the sea. “Peace, be still!” He called and the winds and waves obeyed. Better yet, He calmed the winds and waves deep within the heart of each man in the storm. That’s our Lord–He’s a Peacemaker. We are in this boat we call life. It’s our life and we think we should live it the way we want. We want control of the rudder. When actually God gave us this life to live for Him. We are still here on earth because He has something for us to do. He wants us to live according to His plan and He has huge blessings for us along the way. But because of our willful attitude we are missing out on the huge blessings He has for us.
As I’ve grown to trust Him more I see His provision in more detail. He is constantly with us. I know in our minds that most of us who are His children believe that He is around but do we believe that He will provide. Many of you may have heard the statement “You believe in God but do you BELIEVE God.” This is something all of us need to honestly think about. Do you believe that the Bible is God speaking to you? Do you believe the promises He makes in His word are promises for you today? How sad it is that we ask Him for help then jump in and try to handle it ourselves. We are cheating ourselves of huge blessings. There is tremendous joy of seeing our heavenly Father at work. The next time you face a challenge in your life be it big or small take it to the true Peacemaker. Leave it there and see Him work! You will be amazed at the peace and freedom you feel. Then you will see God’s way of working it all out. God will use you in mighty ways. I wish you all His Peace. Keep Him at the helm of your boat.

The Great Commandment.

God’s word has a lot to say about loving others, forgiving others, and developing a servant attitude. They are all interconnected. The main building block for it all is the love we are to have for one another. What do the scriptures regarding “Christian love” really mean? Is it a warm fuzzy feeling? I don’t have a warm fuzzy feeling for everyone I meet, Christian or not — does that mean I’m not a Christian? A Pharisee once asked Jesus, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:36-40 According to Jesus, the very essence of the Law and the Prophets is to love God and to love others. “Love your neighbor as yourself. Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.”
In Luke, Jesus elaborates on this “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” principle. He says, “Give to everyone who asks of you. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back. And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise. But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.” (Luke 6:30-36)
Christian love is giving to others those things that you would want them to give you if you were in their situation — and it’s doing so even if they can’t pay you back. In fact, it’s doing so especially if they can’t pay you back! Christian love is respect for others. It’s mercy. It’s charity.
It’s human nature to exaggerate others’ offenses against us and to downplay our offenses against others. Without a positive motive to do good to others, we won’t overcome our natural tendency to take more and share less.
Don’t count on tomorrow. Cherish and live each day as if it were your last. Live the life that God has given to you to its fullest potential. And live each day that God has given you for his glory. Don’t forget Jesus’ teaching about the two greatest commandments: “Love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. . . . Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:36-40). Not just sometimes, not just when you have the time and it is convenient. Every day!
Your next encounter with your neighbor may be your last. Seek forgiveness and forgive those who have hurt you. Not tomorrow-today! Do to others as you would have them do to you. For all believers must some day face our Lord at the judgment seat (2 Corinthians 5:10). I want to be able to say I fulfilled the great commandment. How about you?