Thursday, May 26, 2011

Do You Remember

As families get together in the next couple of months for family reunions the question "Do you remember?" is sure to be oft repeated. We gather with loved ones from far and near across the generations and revel in our shared memories. Think about your most treasured memories from the past five years or from when you were five. How many of those memories revolve around how clean the house was? How many times did you think about the dishes matching? Did it matter in your memories if you were dressed in the latest fashion?

My guess is that most of our most precious memories center around people. We remember the things that people said to us, what they did with us, how they showed that they cared for us. We remember the things that really matter the most. That should be a wake up call for each of us today and every day. Let's invest our time and energy into the things that will make a difference. Invite your neighbor over for coffee even if you haven't dusted in a week (or two in my case). Ask the young mom of four preschoolers over for lunch. I know the only thing you have in the cabinets is pb&j, but she isn't going to mind because she is starved for adult conversation and the knowledge that she is not alone. Spend the afternoon making mudpies with your kids. The dirt will come out in the wash, but the memory will be forever.

My brother and I don't get together often, but when we do our greatest laughs come from those precious shared memories. I don't want to be so focused on making things "perfect" that I miss out on those opportunities God has in place for me. My challenge to myself and to you is to let go of the ideal and live each day to the fullest. You will find a grin on your face much more often.

Monday, May 23, 2011

For The Kids

I watched the last 30 minutes of Celebrity Apprentice last night. It was interesting to me that both of these people were working for charities centered on the needs of children. Both made a big deal about how important it was to help out the kids, how much they deserved to win so that children could be helped. They sang "For The Kids", people wept, it was touching.

It amazes me how much we Americans care about the kids. We want to make sure they have food, clothing, shelter, education and health care. We want them to grow up safe and happy. All of that is great, but why is it we aren't so concerned that they get the chance to live? Why is it that we only seem to care about the welfare of our children after they are born? Actually, I don't even think this is true. I have read news stories concerning the murder of pregnant women where the killer is being charged with two counts of murder. That must mean that we have some concern for the unborn child. So, why is it we allow abortion in our country? Why is it okay with us if some preborn children are killed, but not others? What in the world is wrong with our ability to think logically and reasonably?

I would hope that someday soon America really is concerned about the children, all of the children. I would hope that we would see that caring about whether or not a child can hear doesn't do the child any good if he isn't even allowed to be born. We applaud St. Jude's and their tremendous effort to keep children alive while we willingly kill healthy children every day. What a screwed up world we live in. I think that maybe our society has a very sick soul indeed.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Just Get Over It

Today a friend told me "Get over the 'abortion' issue - they don't really care and are just using it to control your vote." What he doesn't seem to understand is that it is not my greatest concern that the politicians care about abortion.

Yes, I would like them to see that protecting the life of unborn children is part of their calling as public servants, but it is not essential to me that they embrace that if they are voting that way. If their desire to keep their cushy political jobs is causing them to vote that way, fine by me. If it is because they don't want to go against their mama, that works too. I don't really care what causes a politician to vote to save a life. I just care that they vote that way.

Do we really think that the Democrats in Congress are so concerned with the lack of health care for the poor that they would jeopardize their jobs in order to make sure that everyone is covered by medical insurance or do we understand that a great way to stay in D.C. is to provide government hand outs to as many voters as possible? I am sure there are some true public servants in our nation's capital, but they are certain to be far outnumbered by those who are there to work the system to further themselves in this life. We all know this to be the case. I accept it, but that doesn't mean I don't support those who are voting the way I want on the issues that I feel are the most important. Isn't that they way the American government works?

It would be nice to see a Congress that was in office to serve the greatest good of the American people. Of course, that would mean a balanced budget, less government, and saving the lives of all Americans, even the unborn. Until that happens, I will continue to vote for those who vote against abortion whether they mean it or not. After all, I find it a little difficult to just "get over" the murder of hundreds of thousands of babies each year. Shouldn't you?

Monday, May 16, 2011

Holy, Holy, Holy

When my kids are reading through their science or history books, they understand that the words printed in boldface type are things that are going to be on the test at the end of the chapter. These are the things that they want to be sure to pay attention to and know well in order to make the grade.

When the Bible has something that is going to be important for us to remember, it is repeated. When Jesus says, "Truly, truly I say unto you" he is saying to us "Hey, pay attention". When something is repeated three times, we should understand that this is something we do not want to miss. This is going to be very important in our lives. Did you know that the only attribute of God treated in this way is his holiness?

The four living creatures encircle the throne of God Almighty singing "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come." and never stop. Not only is holy repeated three times, it is repeated continually forever. They don't sing "Love, love, love" or "Mercy, mercy, mercy". Could that be because of all God's attributes, holiness is supreme? If God's holiness is so important it is worth repeating three times, shouldn't it be important to us?

When you enter your church service are you struck by the impression that this is the house of a most holy God? Does the service direct your attention to His holiness and our unworthiness? As you are led in prayer, do you get the sense that you are in the presence of a God so incredibly holy that we should be shaking in awe? If you aren't, maybe you should spend some time dwelling on just who God is. His holiness is certainly way beyond our comprehension. I know that I don't even begin to have a handle on what it really means to serve a thrice holy God, but I do know that I had better pay attention and start treating God and His church in a way that shows I understand that He is above all.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Weeping Over the Compromise

Yesterday the PCUSA voted to allow their member churches to ordain and install leaders who are living a homosexual lifestyle. The letter sent out to the membership states that "Those who weep will consider this change one that compromises biblical authority and acquiesces to present culture." Count me among those who weep.

In 1996 the PCUSA policy stated that those "refusing to repent of any self-acknowledged practice which the confessions call sin shall not be ordained." Now the policy is being rewritten to say that "governing bodies shall be guided by Scripture and the confessions in applying standards to individual candidates." If there is some way with this new policy that requires the governing bodies to be guided by Scripture, that homosexuals can be ordained as church leaders, I have to understand that the governing bodies of the PCUSA no longer accept that the Bible is the inerrant, infallible Word of our Holy God.

If the Bible is not seen as such, why bother having a church at all. Why not just have a coffee shop, local hangout or bar? What makes the church different is the recognition that the Bible is God's Word for all people for all time. There are no mistakes. It is not outdated. It is holy, true and right. By throwing out the Scripture as the standard of measure on the acceptability of a man for ordination, the PCUSA has opened themselves to all kinds of sinners who are unashamedly and unrepentantly practicing what God teaches us against. How will they now exclude pornographers, wife beaters, drug addicts, gamblers, etc from their leadership? How will they convince their members that these are men (and women) worth following, that these leaders are worthy of honor from the congregation?

Yes, you can count me among those who weep at this decision. In fact, you can count me as one who weeps over the direction many American churches are taking today. The PCUSA did not come to this place overnight. This decision was 33 years in the making, 33 years of sliding a little more and a little more down that slippery slope of appealing to the culture, of making the "unchurched" comfortable.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Be Prepared

Last month my son-in-law was on a field training exercise for the Army. I like that. The army doesn't just send these guys off to do battle in another country. They train them. They give them practice before the real fight. They teach them what kinds of things to expect and how to handle them before they ever happen. God is like that with us.

God calls us to spend time with Him, getting to know Him, meditating on His word, wallowing in His mercy before we get called on to enter the fight. He prepares us for the coming battles in a multitude of ways, but too often we are lazy and selfish and don't take advantage of His provision. Then we are surprised when the enemy knocks us off our feet.

When times get tough do you stop to thank God and ask Him to use this opportunity to stretch you, teach you and use you as an example of His faithfulness or do you ask "why me"? Do you remember how He has prepared you through His Word and His people for such a time as this or do you complain about how difficult your trial is? Do you seek to glorify Him or to garner sympathy for yourself?

God is good to give us times of peace and calm in order to give us time to prepare for the fight to come. I want to make sure that I am ready to stand firm when the day comes. In order to do that I need to make sure that I am spending time each day getting to know my Lord through His beautiful Word. All that we need is there, ready for us to study and meditate on so that when the trials come and the flood waters rise, we know that our anchor will hold firm.

Don't wait until the battle begins to gather your weapons. By then it is too late. You will have allowed the enemy a foothold and he will be that much harder to vanquish. Start now, this very day, getting yourself ready for whatever is to come in your future. No matter what happens: job loss, spouse dies, children turn from your teaching, or a friend deserts you, you will be more than a conqueror because you know that God will not leave you.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Just In Case

In the past week I have talked with two pro-abortion advocates and both have used the same argument in favor of abortion. It is one that I just can't seem to understand at all. It goes like this: Abortion should be legal because these children are "unwanted" and they could end up being abused or even killed. In other words, kill them just in case something bad might happen to them in the future.

Let's seriously consider this argument. My guess is that if we polled every American who has been the victim of a violent crime and asked them if they would have preferred to be killed before the crime had happened, we would get an overwhelming "are you crazy?" response. I think that even though the crime was awful and they would prefer to have avoided that altogether, most people would still choose to live. No battered woman has ever said to me, "Boy, I sure wish someone had killed me before my husband (or boyfriend) had started beating on me." Are they happy with what is going on? No. Do they wish things were different? Certainly, but they still realize that life is better than death.

Now, take their argument to the next step. There is no proof that these " unwanted" babies are going to be abused. Do we live in a country where we feel it is right to kill someone because there is the possibility or even the probability that they will be the victim of a violent crime. I should hope not. We would have to kill everyone just in case they might suffer in such a way. How does that make any sense at all?

I am not saying that there are not parents out there who horribly abuse their children. There are. There are parents who very much wanted their children who beat them and hurt them. But we never say, "Kill the victims." Our answer is to prosecute those who would harm the innocent. Why, then, do we seem to feel it is okay to kill the possible victim as long as they have not traveled the birth canal? Even those who are pro-death must see how idiotic this argument is.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

And Some To Be Mothers

My 3 year old grandson and his mom just left after a three week visit. It was such a blessing to have them here. I had a great time being the grandma and doing the fun things with him. But, his visit reminded me just how hard it can be to be the mom of young children.

I know that there are times that you feel the only word your child knows is "no", you will never have a converstion that isn't about Thomas the Tank Engine, have five minutes to yourself (even in the bathroom), or have a floor that isn't covered with Legos. I know there are days when you just want to sit and cry or to quit. I know that underneath it all you feel totally inadequate and ill-equipped for the job. I know that society has sent the message that your efforts are not worthwhile, and you should get a "real" job.Most importantly, I know that you are the right woman for this. No one, and I do mean absolutely no one, else ever created could be a better mother for your children.

Don't buy into the lies that Satan is continually feeding you in your exhaustion and exasperation. The Truth is that God chose you to be the mother of your children because you were the only one that could do just what needed to be done to make them into the people He wants them to be. He chose those children to be yours because they were the ones He will use to help sanctify you. He didn't make a mistake. You are not a failure. Wiping another runny nose, picking up soggy Cheerios again, and plowing through the same drudgery day after day are not futile efforts. You are making an invaluable investment in the future.

Your children will grow up knowing that they are loved. They will know that they are worth something because you have shown them that you value them greatly. They will know compassion, mercy, and forgiveness because they have seen them modeled daily. These children will grow up to be blessings to all who know them because of what you have done. Press on in your good works. Bring your cares before the Lord and know that He is watching and is pleased with you.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Justice and Forgiveness

God doesn't forgive sins. He punishes sins so that sinners may be forgiven.

I heard a pastor not too long ago state that God's justice is not the same for everyone. He was speaking to the fact that some people seem to regard God as unfair when he metes out mercy to some and not to others. I have to agree that God's mercy is not given out in equal amounts, but I disagree that His justice is not the same for all. If God is just, then His laws must apply to everyone in the same way, and everyone must face the same punishment for breaking the law. God is just. God's laws apply equally to everyone. The wages of sin (breaking the law of God) is death for each and every lawbreaker ever created. There are no exceptions.

Fortunately, for those who are called by His name, God has provided a substitute who is willing to take our punishment upon Himself. Not only did Christ live a perfect life and obey all of God's laws, He willingly exchanged that perfection with my dirty, sin-filled life and went to the cross to satisfy my just God. God's justice didn't change. Death was still required for my law breaking ways. Christ lovingly met that need, so that I will spend eternity glorifying Him.

If God wasn't just, He wouldn't be God, and He wouldn't be worthy of our worship and praise. I am so glad that I can count on Him to be perfectly just. I am so thankful that He provided a spotless Redeemer to pay what I owe Him.