Thursday, October 27, 2011

Centered on Praying

Today's passage:  I Corinthians 15:1-11
     For the past two years, our pastor has challenged our church to pray for the countries of the world.  At the front of the church, during missions conference week, flags of every country are displayed.  This year he asked us to close our eyes and pick one.  That flag is a reminder to pray every day for the souls of that nation.  Even our young children have gotten involved, and listening to them pray for the people of other countries is stirring.  My prayer is that this exercise will burden their hearts about missions and maybe they will feel a calling to do a work in one of the countries for which they grew up praying.
     I have prayed for the countries of Bahrain and Qatar.  This year I am praying for the Central African Republic, a country I didn't know.  Sure, I knew what continent it was on, since the name of the country kind of helped me with that.  I looked up some information on it.  It is located almost directly in the center of Africa (thus the appropriate name).  The landlocked country is located between Cameroon to the west, Chad to the north, the Congos to the South and the Sudans to the northeast/southeast.

African continent with Central African Republic highlighted in green.
      What most troubled me was that the average life expectancy is 50 years old.  With over fifty percent of the population between the age bracket of 15-65, that means about half of the population has reached old age.  With only 25% considering themselves Protestant (and that is a mixed kettle) and a 48% literacy rate, that's three quarters of a country who are unfamiliar with the gospel, and half of a country that would not be able to read a Bible if given one. Those statistics are given by the CIA World Factbook.  Operation World listed the top religion for this country as being Christian, with 32% out of 76% considering themselves evangelical.  With Muslim nations surrounding them, if this is true, that is encouraging news.  Still the need for growth, and a lot of that comes from being able to read the Bible, would be considerable.
      They rank 7 among countries for infant mortality rate, with almost 100 infant deaths out of 1000.  AIDS is still a serious problem here.  As in most African countries, sanitation conditions and disease are prevalent.  It is also considered a Tier 3 country for human trafficking, which means that it has not complied with UN standards for eliminating it and may suffer sanctions as a result.
     Paul says at the beginning of this chapter, "Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;"  It is my desire that every person in the Central African Republic will receive Christ, and stand on the truth they have been given.  Maybe in Heaven, I will find out there were some souls saved because of my prayers.  Maybe I will meet Christian brothers and sisters from Bahrain and Qatar as well.  Wouldn't it be something if God let me have some small part in a country thousands of miles away?  God will let you do the same.  Pick a country, any country, and make it your goal to pray for it for an entire year.  We pray for our countries at every meal time, and then again during devotion time.  That is four times a day (most days) that prayers are being offered up for a country of the world.  If you decide to participate, would you comment below, and tell me for which country you will be praying?  I'd love to hear how God has burdened your heart. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Hold Your Tongues

Today's passage:  I Corinthians 14
The Apostles Baptized with the Holy Spirit
The Apostles Baptized with the Holy Spirit
Taken from the Treasures of the Bible
By Henry Davenport Northrop, D.D.
International Publishing Company, 1894
     Let me get this out up front.  I honestly have no clue how many people read this, and I surely don't know from what denominations readers herald.  But I'm guessing that there may be some who affiliate with a particular denomination who are about to become highly offended by this post.  I don't apologize for this, because I have to write what God shows me from His Word.  Here it is.  I don't see any need for the gift of tongues in our current dispensation.  It looks to me as if this particular spiritual gift was solely a sign for the early church.  As the gospels had not yet been written, how else was God supposed to get out the Good News?  He could have elected to send all of the disciples to language school.  But that might have taken too much time.  It was important to get out the word about Christ's death, burial and resurrection, especially while so many people from different nations of the Roman Empire were in Jerusalem.  So on the day of Pentecost, God chose to do something supernaturally.  He allowed the disciples to speak in a language that was not native to them, that they had not learned.  This was not just to be impressive.  In the audience were people who actually understood them.  Many of these people from these language groups were saved, and were able to return to their countries proclaiming God's salvation plan through His Son Jesus Christ.

     I can't say I know a lot about the modern-day tongues movement.  I have never been to a service or in a church where this takes place.  I've heard stories.  I've met people who claimed they have this gift.  I've never seen or heard it happen.  That being said, what is the point?  Now in inner-city Chicago, you might be able to make a case for it, since it is very possible you could actually have a person who spoke that language in a church service. But a church that does not have the diversity of people we have here, a church in a more rural area would not seem to need access to a plurality of languages.
     Even if I am completely wrong, and tongues are a gift for today, I still don't see how the churches that claim they have this gift use it properly.  Paul is very plain that if this gift is used, an interpreter should be present.  I never hear of that in these churches.  Paul says that those that have this gift, if there is nobody to interpret for them, than they ought to keep it in.  Why?  Verse 23 explains.  "If therefore the whole church be come together into one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are mad?"  I don't know how the charismatic groups explain away this chapter, but it seems to me that there must be a lot of misinterpretation going on.  Here is my question also.  Maybe the claim is that they don't know what language they are speaking, but someone in their service might understand.  Okay.  Let's take that scenario for a second.  Perhaps I speak German.  If I heard my language in a service, wouldn't I go to the speaker and tell them I understood everything they said?  If nobody ever comes to a person with the gift of tongues and says, "Hey, I understood that!"  What is the point?  Furthermore, if those with this gift is unable to identify the tongue they are speaking, doesn't that seem a little convenient?  I mean, if you discovered you could speak Swahili, wouldn't your gift be better used in Africa, rather than an American city where the likelihood you will meet someone who speaks that language is slim?  I'm not trying to sound snarky or belittling.  Really, I am not.  I know that those who still believe this gift for today, also believe in the same plan of salvation I do, and are my brothers and sisters in Christ.  I know that we will worship in Heaven together.  And maybe then, we will actually sing and speak in different tongues.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Unfailing Love

Today's passage:  I Corinthians 13:8
     "Charity never faileth..."  I've seen a lot of movies recently about older people losing their spouses.  We have had a few members of our church who have been going through this stage in life.  I remember when my Grandma had reached a point where dementia forced her sons to make a decision about her care.  We knew Grandpa couldn't care for her on his own anymore.  He protested and insisted he could do it.  Convincing him was not easy.  Had we lived closer, we could have helped more, but an hour and a half is even a great distance when someone's health is failing.  If it had only been her mind, Grandpa would probably never allowed it, but she was having other health issues too which required around-the-clock care.  He went to the nursing home every day.  He sat with her, played cards with her, talked to her.  She was not the woman he had married.  This Grandma I visited in the nursing home was not the sharp-eyed pragmatist I had known all my life.  She barely knew me.  Her memory was dull, and my Grandma's memory had never been dull.  In her younger years, she had worked for the Civil Service, and if you know anything about that occupation, not just anybody tests well enough to obtain that line of work.  I don't know how difficult the exam may be today, but when she took it, you had to have some smarts about you and she had them.  Yet, this woman who did not laugh as often as Grandpa's jokes, who didn't seem to know her own grandchildren had her husband at her side every day.  He went early in the morning and stayed until visiting hours were over.  I know it was hard for him to go home to that empty house.  His life was a few miles away.  I think of their love, and I think of God's.  It never fails.
     Grandma didn't live long after she was put in the nursing home.  I don't know what else we could have done, and I'm not saying that being put there ended her life early.  I know that she had been a busy, active person all her life, and hours sitting would have been foreign to her, even if it was sitting with Grandpa.   After her three boys had grown, she kept busy.  She turned their basement into a ceramics shop.  She made beautiful ceramics.  She gardened, canning green beans and jellies.  I've yet to taste anything like her raspberry jelly.  She crocheted.  I still have one of her afghans. 
Romantic drawing of couple snuggling by the fireplace.
Snuggle by the Fire
Artist: Mary Stewart Cutting (1858-1932)
Image Appears In: The Wayfarers
Date Image Published: 1908
Courtesy of
     I don't remember whether she went into the home in the spring or the summer, but I remember that around Christmas time that same year, we were attending her funeral.  The hardest thing was knowing how alone Grandpa would be.  At least he could be by her side when she was in the nursing home.  At least he could bring her treats, or play dominoes with her.  He could hear her voice, he could hold her hand.  Now, he had to find other ways to occupy his time.  He did that for about two more years, and then he went to Glory to be with his wife.  His passing was sudden.  We didn't know he had any health problems and God took him unexpectedly.  Some couples say they love each other, but other couples show it.  My grandparents loved each other.  My Grandpa told my Grandma that if she married him, he would do the dishes every night.  And he did.  It wasn't just a promise he made to get her to wear his ring, he followed through with his commitment.  I got the feeling he enjoyed doing the dishes, because he always sang while washing.  Maybe in his Navy days he had a lot of KP duty and knew the most efficient way to get the job done.  In any case, after every meal, Grandpa filled the sink with suds and washed all the dishes, even when Grandma had a house full of company.  He let us help of course, on occasion.

     As loving and strong as any human relationship we see on this earth, none of them exceed God's love for us.  None of them last longer than God's love.  His love never fails us.  There is nothing I can do, no way I can act, no thing I can say that will cause God to withdraw His love from me.  If like my Grandma, I became a person completely different than who I am, God would not suddenly stop caring for me. While any of us still have life, He will never take back His plan of salvation.  He will never say, "No, I didn't plan for that person to be saved."  When Jesus died on the cross, it was for all eternity.  The love He showed for me on Calvary is a lasting work.  It was and is enough.  As our Advocate, Jesus never goes to the Father and says, "I didn't die for that one."  His love is everlasting, it will never cease.  What about the Holy Spirit?  How is His love unfailing?  He never gives up on seeing people come to Christ.  It is true that He will eventually stop knocking on an individual's heart's door.  If that individual continues to push Him away, He will eventually stop knocking.  But not because He no longer loves that person.  And when one person rejects Him, it doesn't cause Him to give up on the whole human race.  There are other hearts still inviting Him in. 
     As sweet and endearing it is to see older couples still in love with each other, still wanting to be together, their love is not as powerful as my God's love.  Although, watching these dear older saints is potent, magnify that enduring love by the greatest strength, and then you will have my God's love.  My love may fail Him.  My love may fail my husband and children.  But I can never say that about Him.  I will still be praising Him for His love when I arrive in Heaven.  I wish He could praise me about my love for Him.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Bearing and Believing, Hoping and Enduring

Today's passage:  I Corinthians 13:7
     Charity..."Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things."
I remember a preacher in my Bible college chapel preaching on this passage and saying that this verse was a progression.  In us, it probably is.  It would be hard to endure if I didn't hope, believe, or bear first.  But with God, who has perfect charity, it can not be.  He doesn't ever need improvement, His love doesn't have to build.  Here is what I have learned from these four characteristics about the Trinity.
     Beareth all things...God is strong enough to bear all of our problems.  He doesn't whine or complain about the weight. For Him, the lifting is easy.  Jesus bore the weight of the cross, the weight of rejection, the weight of our sin.  Bearing these things not because He was forced, but because of His love for us.  The Holy Spirit bears with being pushed away, with being grieved, with being ignored.  He puts up with a lot.
     Believeth all things...God believes me to be righteous and holy when I am not.  He believes it because of the debt His Son paid to make me righteous and holy.  Jesus believed in my worth and value by dying for me.  The Holy Spirit believes in His ability to transform me.  He believes in the power God has given Him to make me a different person from what I am naturally.
   Hopeth all things...God hopes every sinner will come to repentance.  He hopes all of His Creation will realize He is the Creator and He deserves our worship.  He hopes that if He allows this earth to remain one more day, then one more soul will be saved.  The Lord Jesus hopes people will recognize that His sacrifice is enough.  Nothing more needs to be done, nothing added.  His substitutionary death on the Cross of Calvary paid it all, and He hopes that every person trying to work their way to Heaven will someday realize that.  The Holy Spirit hopes that the tapping on the heart will open wide to Him.  He hopes the call to the mission field will be answered.  He hopes the nudge to talk to the person in the grocery store about Christ will prompt action.
Jesus stands at the door knocking
Taken from Standard Bible Story Readers, Book Six
By Lillie A. Faris
Illustrated by O.A. Stemler and Bess Bruce Cleaveland
The Standard Publishing Company, 1929
     Endureth all things...God endures His name being used in vain.  He endures people who claim He doesn't exist.  He endures us transgressing His laws and explaining why they shouldn't be there.  He endures people tossing His Words in the trash or burning them. He endures His Words being twisted, simplified, changed.  Jesus endured over thirty years in a human body.  He endured limiting His power.  He endured questioning, ridicule, unbelief, semi-belief in the form of being made a mere historical figure and not the Son of God.  He endured betrayal, beatings, crucifixion, burial.  He endured separation from His Father.  The Holy Spirit endures living in a Christian heart that is cold, indifferent, unresponsive.  He endures getting too much glory for the work in our lives, and sometimes, not enough glory for the work in our lives.  He endures having His gifts squandered or exaggerated. 
     When I see these traits of love, and I think of how marriages are entered into so quickly, thrown away so lightly, exited so frequently, it is clear that we don't understand God's love.  If we did, we would put up with a lot more to make marriage work.  If we understood God's love better, we would never walk past a person without asking about their eternal destination.  We would sacrifice and tolerate more if it would make a difference in a person's eternal soul.  If I loved God like He loves me, I would spend more time with Him, listen to Him better, do more for Him.  He has given so much for me.  He has given so much to me. I am amazed that anyone's love for me could be so perfect.  I can never get into an argument with Him about not loving me enough, about not understanding me, about not doing enough for me.  I might think those things about my family and friends at times, but God can never be accused of it.  Can I ever love like He loves?  I can only attempt.  And even though my attempts will fall short, it is better than not trying at all.

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Whole Truth

Today's passage:  I Corinthians 13:6
     Often I am so busy learning about myself, that I forget it is not the only reason to read the Bible.  It is also to learn about God.  The things God has been reminding me about Himself has renewed me.  Not that He has ever needed me to have confidence in Him, I have always been confident of His love for me, of His watchfulness, of His provision.  I have always been sure of His infallible Word, of Holy Spirit conviction, of the law of sowing and reaping.  I am certain that He wants me to lean on Him, worship Him, serve Him, in that order.  Yet, even though I stand firm on all these, God still shows me more about Himself, not because He needs to instill that confidence, but because when I am confident in who He is, I am confident in who I am.  And honestly, I've needed that a little the last couple of weeks.  I have had inner wrestlings in my spirit.  I have been bearing  weights when I should be allowing God to flex His muscles.
     This has little to do with the verse today, but this chapter has reminded me so much about my loving God.  It has been refreshing to dwell on Him, and not on me.
    "{Charity}Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;"  Brackets are mine.  This seems like an obvious characteristic of God's love.  It is not ground-breaking revelation that God is not joyful about our sin.  In my prayer time this morning I thanked Him for having this quality because it was what prompted Him to plan our salvation.  As much as the Lord Jesus loathed sin, He was willing to come close to it, to have it put upon Him, so that it could be taken from me.  That is true love.  He took hateful, despicable, detestable sin upon Himself.  The Holy Spirit does not rejoice in sin. He does not hurrah every time He has to point it out in my life.  He isn't cheering when the sin I didn't know was there is revealed to me.  He doesn't wave each transgression in my face.  Sometimes it hits me hard, unveiled like a rabbit in a magician's hat, but He doesn't say "I told you so".  Sometimes He shows me in a quiet way, quivering my calm, off-balance steps, which provokes me to see the cause. 
     God also rejoices in the truth.  He is The Truth.  So does He rejoice in Himself?  I know He rejoices in His Son.  Remember at Christ's baptism and at the Transfiguration when God says, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."?  He rejoices in His Son, who is the Truth.  In Roman 13:17, Paul says, "For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost."  He is also referred to by Christ in John 17 as the Spirit of truth.  Very little here on earth or in man is truthful.  Which would leave only one answer as to what truth would cause rejoicing.  Him.  I should rejoice in Him here, but when everything points away from Him, away from the Truth, it gets very difficult.  How marvelous it will be in Heaven when everyone will rejoice in the Truth.  None of us will have hidden motives or secret agendas.  God says charity is rejoicing in the truth, and the only real truth exists in Him. When I rejoice over every sinner who has been found by Christ, I am rejoicing in the truth. 
Courtesy of

     I may give my money to many "charities" but true charity is found when I give that money to organizations that give out the truth.  Since there is only one truth, it would be better to invest my money not in humanitarian causes, but in spiritual ones.  Giving money to fight cancer, to save children in the Sudan, to political candidates is fine.  Will we ever find the solution through those?  Will there ever be a day when cancer is cured, children are no longer hungry, politics solves our problems?  I know the answer to the last two.  And while I don't condemn anyone for donating to these needs, if truth is not being revealed through all of these fine and noble organizations, it isn't true charity.  If God allows the doctors to eradicate cancer from the body, but the soul has never been touched, I don't see the cause for rejoicing.  Trust me, I want to see a cure, I'm just saying we call them "charity", but unless it somehow points to God, it is not.  Should Africa conquer malnourishment in every child on that continent, unless each little life is presented with the gospel of Jesus Christ, we have only prolonged the inevitable.  I'm not heartless.  I don't want to see those children die.  But I know that they are hungry for something more substantial.  They need to be filled with the truth.  If all the political bickering subsided, if our nation were to somehow fix unemployment, education, the deficit, foreign policy etc., etc., etc., we might think it time to celebrate.  But in our material health, our spiritual selves would lean less on Him, and more on us.  We would seek our own truth instead of the real Truth.  So as much as I would like to see members in my church family gainfully employed, as much as I would like to see the housing market rise again, I know that sponsoring a candidate to deliver us from these woes will not deliver us from our eternal ones.  I would never discourage anyone from giving to these needs, but we label them wrong.  They are not true charity unless with the earthly cure they are giving out the spiritual one. 
     God does not rejoice in iniquity, and did something about it.  He rejoices in the Truth that was sent long ago to deliver me from my iniquity.  He rejoices in every wayward sinner, trudging with Bunyan's burden, eyes opened at the Cross for the first time.  He rejoices when that burden falls from our backs and He gives us a scroll of Truth to exchange in that Celestial City.  I love God's way, when I sorrow for people in sin, and I give out the Truth of God.  I love the way God loves when I give my money to disease fighting physicians who also tell about the Great Physician, when with the morsel of bread they give out the Bread of Life, when in the political debate they offer The Way, The Truth and the Life.  Charity is God's love in action.  His actions tell the whole story, a story of the whole truth.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Power of Love

Today's passage:  I Corinthians 13:5
     I have always approached these verses, wondering how I can improve in my love for others.  I have always looked at them as a checklist to check my charity meter.  This week, I have been meditating on how God is all of these verses.  In my prayer time, I thank God for being each characteristic of charity, and why I know He is.  Then I thank Jesus for being each of these characteristics and then the Holy Spirit.  Praising God is easy when you just pray the Scripture and really think about how God embodies it.
     "Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;"
    Doth not behave itself unseemly... God never behaves inappropriately.  He never says a word too many and He never listens to or tells a raunchy joke.  We probably apply this sense of decorum to heads of state or monarchs.  There is a sense of how to behave, what to wear, how to carry yourself.  We think of the majesty of a royal position.  God is all those and never pushes the bounds of indecency. 
     Seeketh not her own...God created us to worship Him.  He created us to fellowship with Him.  He made us in His image.  Yet, most of His Creation refuses to even give Him a thought.  If He were to put us under His thumb, He could require us to worship Him as we should.  But He gives us free will.  And because of that, He allows us to go our own way, separate from Him.  He is not going to put us in a headlock until we cry out "Uncle" so that He can acquire our devotion.  If He wanted to, He could.  If Christ had been selfish, He would never have left Heaven.  If He wanted to do only what He wanted to do, He would have told the Father to have somebody else do the job.   The Holy Spirit allows God the Father and God the Son to receive all the glory, even though He does an equally important work in our lives.  His love for us prevents Him from shining a neon arrow upon Himself to remind us that He is at work as well.  I also find it interesting that the pronoun used for charity in this trait is her.  In other places in the passage, charity is referred to as it.  I am not implying that women have more love than men, but if you think about it, a mother almost always has this quality when it comes to her children, and men are told to love their wives as Christ loved the church.  I just think that maybe this quality in charity comes a little more naturally for women and therefore, God chose to use a feminine pronoun.  Just an observation.
     Is not easily provoked...This is so true of our God.  When I think about the times in the Bible that God exercised judgement upon the earth, He always gave fair warning.  He did not just react to what was taking place.  When He decided to destroy the earth by flood, He had been patient with the wickedness for hundreds of years.  Even after he instructs Noah to build the ark, He gives ample time for people to repent, to choose Him.  He didn't tell Noah and the next day send rain.  When He exiled Israel into captivity, first to the Assyrians, then to the Babylonians, He charged prophet after prophet to warn of what would be coming.  He could have destroyed them instantly, but because His righteous anger is a slow burn, He doesn't punish immediately.  That idea of lightning striking someone when they have done wrong just does not fit in with this characteristic of God.  Jesus was not easily provoked when the Pharisees questioned Him unfairly.  He could have zapped them.  He could have stricken them with leprosy.  If he was a vengeful God, He would have.  How many times have I provoked the Holy Spirit?  How many times have I told Him no, have I waved Him away, have I hardened my heart against Him?  If He was easily provoked, He would just take His presence and leave.
     Thinketh no evil...Some people believe that God is sitting up in Heaven hatching up plans for us.  Some think that He is sketching out every detail on how to make us more miserable.  If God is a God of love, which He is, and these are the characteristics of love, then we know this cannot be true.  First of all, God is not capable of evil, but to even think of Him scheming and plotting gives an evil slant to His plans.  Christ could have pocketed a ledger with names of those who spit on Him, who challenged His deity, who withheld food or shelter from Him.  He could have studied that list and prayed to His Father to allow some unforeseen danger to happen in that person's path.  Instead, when we read the Gospels, Jesus is never praying evil on us, only good.  He intercedes for us, and an intercessor wants our best, not our worst.
     When I think about how God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit embody these qualities of charity, it doesn't make me feel defeated.  It might seem that it would, because He is perfect and I am imperfect.  He is holy and I am unholy.  But because He is living in me, His power becomes my power, His holiness becomes my holiness, His love becomes my love.  I have access to this kind of love because He resides in me and so as a by-product, I have His love in me.  I can choose to not use it, but I always have access to it, and that is a thought that fills me with hope.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


Today's passage:  I Corinthians 13:1-4
     This is one of my favorite passages in the Bible.  I would venture that it is a favorite of many people.  A majority of the verses are dedicated to telling us what Godly love is supposed to look like.  We often interchange the words charity and love but they are not the same.  One of the best definitions I have seen for the word charity is "Godly love in action".  We have experienced Godly love through our Lord.  It is hard to explain it without showing what it is.  There is so much in these verses that I think I will take only a few at a time.  I want to have a real understanding about how God loves me, and how He wants me to love other people.
     "Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up."  This morning as I was having my prayer time, I was really meditating on these verses.  I was praising God for being these verses.  He is the definition of godly love, since He is God.  I was thanking Him for being a longsuffering God.  He is not only waiting for unbelievers to accept His Son, He waits for me to continue to grow and mature into the Christian He wants for me to be.  I'm really thankful He is so patient with me.  I thanked Him for being kind.  Oh, how kind He is.  How can I even begin to explain how good He has been to me.  He shows me kindnesses every day.  He has given me a wonderful family.  He has provided all my needs.  He protects me. 
     I praised Him for being a God without envy.  Jealous, yes, but not envious.  They are two completely different things.  I asked Him to help me to be a person who does not wish for the things of others, who does not wish to be others.  I praised Him for being a God who does not promote Himself.  I was really struck by this, because if there is any One who deserves to be promoted it is Him.  The Bible is full of verses talking about exalting, praising, reverencing, worshipping God, and they all come from people who at the time recognize how great He is and how much He deserves all of it.  God doesn't boom His voice down to us, reminding us that it is praise time again.  He doesn't arrange the clouds to say, "Hey, down there, I'm up here and I want you to worship me."  He could.  He has all the power in the world to do that.  He has all the right in the world to expect it.  His beautiful Creation points to it.  But He doesn't ever ask us.  He isn't "puffed up".  Nor could He ever be, since any recognition He gets He rightly deserves. 
     He does not have to exalt Himself, because when I recognize the characteristics of charity that have just been described, when I think about His longsuffering, His kindnesses, being devoid of envy, it automatically brings me to a place where I will promote Him, I will boast and brag about what a wonderful God He is. 
     I can't articulate appropriately just how much God impressed this on my heart this morning.  I can't because He is beyond my faltering words.  I pray that God will make me a person who is longsuffering (although I will never be as longsuffering as He is), a person who is kind (even though His kindnesses exceed any I even attempt), a person who is devoid of envy, but especially a person who does not seek her own glory.  I pray that if I am able to achieve even a sliver of charity's traits, I will understand that I do not deserve any recognition for those things, because God is the only One who can enable them in me.  If I represent charity in any fashion, then I know it can only be God, because never can I have that kind of love on my own.  He doesn't demand our praise, but when any of us shows His love in our lives, He is the source of it.  When we do something that seems completely contradictory to how a person would react, we are pointing to Him.  We make people wonder how we possibly could respond the way we do, then He is getting that credit He deserves, because it acknowledges a "higher power" to act that way.  When I accept praise for a particular kindness or unexplained patience, then it must not be charity at all, because if I can achieve it on my own, it must not be from God.  True charity has no feigned action.  It has no disguised humility.  It is not doing what ought to be done with an underlying sense of obligation.  If I loved others the way God loves me, I would never do anything out of duty.  I would do it with the love I have for my own children.  And even that, as selfless as it usually is, doesn't quite compare.  Because God loved me enough to give up His only child, and I'm pretty certain I will never be as selfless as that.

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Domino Effect

Today's passage:  I Corinthians 12
     "But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body as it hath pleased him."
     Have you ever set up dominoes in a long line, gauging how best to space them so that when the first one is tipped, the rest tip over too?  When I think about God setting the members of the body (not just our physical ones, but the church as a spiritual body), I think about how God puts us all where He desires, so that we can work together to accomplish His purpose.  Everybody probably would want to be that first domino.  After all, it has the closest contact with the tipper, it is the most noticeable.  Everybody would probably want to be the last domino, because it is the indicator of success or failure.  Few want to be the dominoes in between.  But if it weren't for the dominoes in between, the first domino and the last domino would have no significance.
     It is kind of like that in our churches.  God gives some people talents, abilities, spiritual gifts that naturally lend to that person being noticed.  People with creative talents are especially prone to this, and if they are anything like me, constantly wrestle with making sure God gets the glory.  But not everyone can have those creative gifts.  If they did, also like me, they would be scatterbrained, messy, critical, sometimes arrogant.  With all the positive, there is plenty of negative.  And although some people might think gifts of singing and teaching are "it", I can tell you, the pats on the back create a prideful being with which God is displeased.  I would never call them a curse, but the more I'm noticed, the less God is, and that troubles me.  I am forever battling whether to use certain gifts because I want to use what God has given me, but I also want Him to be glorified, not me.  I am not trying to theorize that I am the lead domino, I just want people to understand that the gifts I have, although maybe sometimes more noticeable, aren't always the most glorifying to God.  Instead, I believe the people with the least noticeable gifts, those middle dominoes, are the ones God has the most pleasure in.  Think about the person with the spiritual gift of helps.  This is the man in the church who will fix anything for anybody.  She is the woman who brings meals to the elderly widows or visits with the church member residing in the nursing home.  We don't see their actions, but sometimes have benefitted from them.  How about the person with the gift of administration?  How I wish I had that gift!  I wish I could plan an event and every time it would go smoothly.  What usually happens, is as much as I have thought through something, trying to account for every detail, I miss something.  Every time I miss something, and I am not quick enough on my feet to change plans.  The person with the gift for administration knows how to recover from these snafus and is able to keep the event going without a hitch.  Sometimes we know the names of these people, but often we do not.  And the person in charge will tell you, that they can not have been successful without delegating to many others.
     What if some people do not use their gifts?  It is kind of like when the line of dominoes are falling nicely but suddenly stop because the one domino is sitting just a bit out of reach.  For some reason, it wasn't spaced properly causing the previous domino to miss hitting it, and therefore, the rest of the line of dominoes continues to stand.  God sets us where He wants us.  But if we move, if we shift forward, backward, left or right, even a tiny bit, it can throw off the whole operation.  This does not frazzle God.  He doesn't wring His hands wondering what is going to happen if we don't each play our part.  Sometimes God shifts the line, sometimes he removes a domino completely.  How sad would that be if I were the domino stubbornly refusing to fall down because I wasn't content with where God had placed me in the line.  He puts us where He will get the most glory.  Even though I wish I had certain gifts, I'm not going to withhold the ones I have been given because they aren't necessarily the ones I wanted.  I can't speak for the weaknesses of other people's gifts, because I don't have those, but the person with the gift of helps or administration could tell you what they are.  Usually you will not find those two gifts in the same person because the helps person is very person oriented, and the administrator is very task oriented.  And we need them both!  God knows how best to get a job done, and has given us the gifts that will accomplish that.  If we recognize the spiritual gifts God has put in us, and accept the position we have been placed, when that domino line falls, nobody will look at the lead, and nobody will look at the end, they will look at the One who set up the line.  That is what God has intended all along.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Still Striving

Today's passage:  I Corinthians 11
     Have I said this before?  I struggle with the Pauline epistles.  Maybe you have noticed that my posts have not been as regular as before.  It has not been because I have not been reading.  Sometimes I read the same verses for a couple days, really trying to absorb what is there.  Of course the ever changing sleep patterns of my boys does delay the process a bit too. 
The Virtuous Wife
Taken from Treasures of the Bible
By Henry Davenport Northrop, D.D.
International Publishing Company, 1894
     I don't like to write about what God can teach other people.  I want God to crack through my thick coconut head, revealing to me not just the sweet milk, but the yummy meat.  The whole reason I started this blog in the first place was because I found as I wrote things down, God would show me something more.  I want more.  I don't want just a surface level understanding.  I want God to challenge me in my thinking.  I want those light-bulb, a-ha moments where my eyes have opened up and I see something in a fresh light, something that I never saw before, although millions before me and since had already seen it.  But for me, it was new.  I haven't been getting those lately, and I get quickly discouraged when they don't.  Lately, it has been a lot of conviction.  It is hard when I am convicted day after day about all the things I am doing wrong.  It gets overwhelming.   I'm not even going to start on this passage that gives a clear hierarchy of God-ordained leadership.  I fail so much here, that I want to duck for cover as soon as I see these verses.  My husband is my head, yet I always want to make sure that head is screwed on straight.  That saying about the woman being the neck turning the head is not Biblical by the way.  I know sometimes it is said in jest, but sometimes it is not.  If I am the one doing the turning, then my husband is just a figurehead and that is not how God intended it.  I find it interesting that women want to take charge and be equal with men.  If God wanted it that way, wouldn't he have made woman first?  Paul says that the woman was made for the man, not the other way around.
     I know I am not always the person I should be.  I know I am not always the wife or the mother God wants me to be.  I am not always the friend, the daughter, the sister, the church member I ought to be.  I have to wonder sometimes if I am getting anything right.  I don't say this to garner sympathy.  Sometimes we all need a spiritual check-up to see how we are doing.  I've failed several of these spiritual tests lately.  I'm not proud of it.  I want so much to be the woman God wants for me to be, but every day I see how far I need to go.  I am striving to be that virtuous woman, and I don't know if I will ever get there.  On that note, I have a house that needs cleaning, a darling boy who needs some mommy time, and a heart that needs some encouragement.  I'm going to put on some good gospel music and allow the words of those songs and songwriters banish the blues.   A little weepy today, for no good reason.  Just one of those days, I guess.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Gold Medal Standard

Today's passage:  I Corinthians 9:19-27
      The Olympics.  How I love to watch the Olympics.  My husband dreads them because I will watch every event possible.  Seriously.  I think the first time I watched them was the summer they were in Los Angeles.  I remember wanting to stay up every night to see women's volleyball, swimming, and of course gymnastics.  I loved hearing the life stories of these athletes who had given up so much to train for their event, to train to represent our country, to train to win that gold medal.  I love that they stagger the Winter and Summer Olympics so that one is viewable every two years.  Now I only have to wait half as long to see an Olympics. 
     Last year, my son watched speed skating with me and we both rooted for Apollo Anton Ohno.  He decided he wanted to take up speed skating and go to the Olympics to win a gold medal.  I explained to him that it takes years of training.  You don't just show up at the Olympics and participate.  You have to become the best at your sport, which means school in a different way, not a lot of play time, hours and hours of drills and skating.  I was not trying to discourage him, but I knew he had no idea what it would take to achieve that level of competition.  After listening to the amount of dedication it would take to get to the Olympics, he decided maybe he would just watch it on TV.
     I am astounded at the discipline these athletes exercise to vie for that gold medal, once, maybe twice in their lifetimes.  It means pushing your body to unbelievable limits.  It means dying to self in many facets of life.  It means pushing through injuries and adversities.  We glorify the athlete (I think disproportionately) because we know the effort it takes to subject our bodies to those physical demands.  We know the difficulty of exercising such will power when chocolate cake is calling out to us, and think, well maybe just this once, when a trained athlete will say, not even this once.  We know when we want to skip a workout because we have had a draining week, and the competitor says, I will workout twice today.  There must be a drive in them that compels them to keep going.  And we've seen it.  Who can forget Keri Strug's memorable vault which secured a gymnastics team gold medal?  After spraining her ankle to record a lukewarm score, she vaulted into the hearts of America by braving a second attempt.  Furthermore, she sacrificed her chances at the All-Arounds with this endeavor.  She took one for the team.  Had she not pushed her ankle, giving it a chance to mend before the Individual events, she might have had opportunity to take more than one medal home.
Courtesy of--

     How much am I willing to sacrifice to give out the gospel?  Missionaries do it.  They represent us in all parts of the world, giving up the daily comforts we take for granted.  They eat foods we would not even taste, let alone eat.  They learn difficult languages that require years of study.  In some places, they travel dusty terrain to reach the outlying villages.  They encounter incurable disease, unsanitary conditions, untamed wildlife, government regime changes, inflation that alters their financial support.  These seem like big things, but they also deal with daily nuisances.  Insects, electricity blackouts, water shortages, rodents, corrupt officials, homesickness and a host of other things.  Paul gives quite a lengthy list in II Corinthians 11 about just a few of the things that had happened to him as a missionary.  He wasn't complaining, he was just explaining that the missionary life is not always easy.  He was willing to go through all that because he knew that people who die without Christ will go through a lot more. 
     Athletes punish their bodies to achieve a gold medal.  Sure, it looks great on the mantelpiece, the gold reflecting in the homefires.  Yes, it brings international fame and recognition at every breakfast table chowing down on Wheaties.  Surely, there is satisfaction knowing that those years of intense training had been rewarded.
     Missionaries leave previous (sometimes lucrative) occupations to go to an unfamiliar culture.  They raise their children far away from grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins who deem them strangers when they return for furloughs.  They make difficult decisions about how those children will be schooled, abroad or at home.  They will not bring home a gold medal at the end of their tenure, but they will have something far more precious at the end of this life.
     Is it a lot to ask for me to give a little time to pray for them?  And not just a "Please bless the missionaries" but praying specifically for each family, for each field, for each need.  Is it too much to give a little of my money to support missionaries?  Maybe to even give a little more for special missionary projects?  I'll admit it.  I am embarrassed when I don't know who our missionaries are.  I may not always recognize each face, because I don't have a missionary card for each of them, but I should at least recognize each name.  Just yesterday, I was reading some of the missionary letters on the church bulletin board (something I should do far more often) and saw a name I did not recognize.  Have I prayed for that family before?  I didn't see it on our regular prayer sheet, so I'm not sure what the situation is, but now that I know it, I will do my best to pray for them regularly.
     If athletes and missionaries can discipline themselves to give their all, can't I discipline myself to give just a little?  In the Olympics, they are competing for a temporary reward, and I never see a one of them giving up even though the first three cross the finish line.  Every competitor finishes that race, even it means pushing a broken luge across by foot.  They do not want to let their country down.  They want to finish their race with pride.  Shouldn't I want to do the same for my God?  I know I will never be Olympics material, but shouldn't I be a gold medalist on God's team?  It might take a little work, and a little dedication, but a gold crown will last longer than a gold medal.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Sounds Tempting

Today's passage:  I Corinthians 10:1-22
     It is puzzling how several children can grow up in the same family, having the same teachings about life, about the Lord, about character, and each of these children will handle those teachings differently.  One child may internalize these values, embrace them, and apply them to his life.  Another child might test these teachings, stray for a little while, return to them and use them for the rest of her life.  Still another child may scoff at these values, push them aside, and live his life as he pleases, without thinking another thing about them.  How does that happen?  I think this chapter in I Corinthians is a good indicator.
     All of God's children, the Israelites, were stranded in the wilderness.  They ate the same meals together, they traveled to the same places together, they witnessed the same miracles together.  They received the same Ten Commandments together.  Some of them chose to follow God's commands, others chose to ignore them.  Why?  What would cause that?  Verse 6 says, "Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted."  Lust for the things they were going after was the root cause of why they strayed, and ultimately were punished and destroyed.  Do we all lust after evil things?  We all have that sin nature, so the answer must be yes.  Now as Christians, we have a new nature that can overpower our sin nature, but how often do we listen to it? 
     "Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall."  The word "wherefore" points back to the previous verses.  Maybe the problem wasn't that the Israelites disregarded God's commands.  Maybe it was that since they were under God's protection, they thought they could not be affected by evil.  They had guidance from God's pillar of cloud by day, and God's pillar of fire by night.  They had been provided manna each day, falling from the heavens.  They had been given water from a rock.  Wasn't God in complete control of their lives?  If they were tempted with something, wasn't it God who allowed it?  Unfortunately, I have seen too many Christians justify their sin, by saying God led them to it.  I have heard on too many occasions that God would not have put such and such in their path if He didn't want them to participate in it.  Of course, we know that this is flawed logic.  The next verse tells us why.  "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able;  but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it."  There is not a single temptation in my life or anyone else's that someone else has not faced at some point.  This kind of goes in hand with Solomon's observation in Ecclesiastes that there is nothing new under the sun.  The temptations I face today are exactly like the ones the Israelites faced in the Old Testament.  Okay, well maybe not in the exact form, but the exact sin.  For example, the Israelites did not have a TV set on which to watch music videos that blares blasphemous lyrics, with scantily clad women gyrating across the screen.  No, they could witness a live performance.  The Israelites could not access lewd photos via the internet, they could just let their mind do the imagining for them.  The Israelites may not have had to battle against street gangs and crystal meth.  I'm guessing the warrior nations were just as bad, and I don't know when opium arrived on the scene.  All our temptations are the same.  Not only does God make a way for us to escape these temptations, He makes a way for us to avoid them in the first place.  The verse immediately following says, "Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry."  There is that word again.  Wherefore.  God gives us a way to escape by staying away from the stuff to begin with.  If we think we are too strong not to fall, then we most certainly will.  God will give us a way to escape but the primary way is to stay far away from anything that will tempt us.  Flee, God says.  Don't go near it.  Don't stay around it.  Don't play by it, or with it.  And if we stay close by, we still can overcome it, because God says we can, but His intent was never for us to get close enough to get burned.  Many of us can identify the particular sins that beset us.  The sins that I stumble over may not be the ones with which others wrestle.  Somebody struggles with the sins I struggle.  Someone struggles with the sins you struggle.  None of us is alone in this Christian journey.  None of us is the only one facing that particular temptation.  I think God tells us this so that we don't get a martyr's complex and believe that we can never overcome.  Others have, so I can too.  But the key to overcoming in the first place, is to keep as far away from the sin that most troubles me.
Breaking Away from Habits
Taken from Treasures of the Bible
By Henry Davenport Northrop, D.D.
International Publishing Company, 1894
     Parents often look for the weaknesses in themselves that may have caused their children  to decide to go their own way in the world.  We often blame ourselves when our children make wrong choices.  Here is the primary problem with that.  All of us are imperfect.  We all have weaknesses.  We all have character flaws.  We all have difficult choices.  Sometimes we will make the wrong ones.  Sometimes we will not always be the example we need to be.  But there is not a single perfect parent who does everything perfectly.  Since this is the case, we cannot blame ourselves for every wrong choice our children choose to make.  Do we need to try to make the best choices possible?  Yes.  Do we need to do our best to set an example?  Of course.  But if we are living our life in a way that we are doing our best to live for God, even in the best scenarios, we may have children who reject everything they have been taught.  Can you imagine if Moses blamed himself for each Israelite in the wilderness who helped to create the golden calf?  Was he guilt-ridden over each person who refused to look up at the brass serpent?  I know he mourned.  I know he sorrowed, but because of their own choice, not because of his.  If we have been the best example we can be, we need to realize that our children are responsible for their own choices.  If we have taught them to flee from evil, and they choose to run headfirst into it, we should not feel responsible for their disobedience.  Sometimes we do the best we can, and prayer is the only thing left.  God gives us principles and we must do our best to apply them.  But even in the best of families, there may be a child who follows after her own lusts.  Prayerfully, she will recognize her folly and return to what she has been taught.  If she does not, I should not assume it is something that I have done.  Even if I lived perfectly, she may have decided to perfectly avoid that.

Monday, October 10, 2011


Today's passage:  I Corinthians 9
     "For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more." 
     I wish I could say that this is my life verse and I have always lived by it.  Unfortunately, I am prone to selfishness, and God has convicted me of some selfish ways just this past weekend.
     As a mother of younger children, I'm sure every mother of young children, or even older children can attest, it is nice to have a getaway day.  Not a getaway day where you have to run errands for the household, just a day of pure chore-free fun.  Saturday was to be that day for me, and I hadn't had one in quite a while.  Our church ladies went on an outing to a huge craft fair held at a town about 50 miles distance from our city.  I even had money to spend, a rarity.  Apparently, everyone else within a 50 mile radius decided to go to the craft fair too, because it was crowded.  Almost instantly, our whole group was separated.  It became the running joke for the rest of the day.  Many of our ladies ended up looking at all the craft booths solo.  I had been waiting for my sister-in-law, who lived in this town.    I wasn't sure how much assistance she would need in her power wheelchair.
     One of our elder ladies, who had a lot of trouble walking, had come with us for this outing.  I don't think I'm the only one who wondered why, when it was made clear that there were not a lot of places to sit, and there would be a great deal of walking.  I had assisted her with buying her ticket and making sure she got inside the entrance alright.  I know others from our group would have helped her as well, but as I said, they were all swallowed up by throngs of people immediately upon setting foot inside the gates.  She impatiently wanted to know where the booths selling baby items were, as she wanted to buy an item for a baby shower the following week for one of our pregnant young ladies.  I told her I would help her as soon as I met up with my sister-in-law.  She did not seem to want to wait.  So she wandered off on her own, in search of the baby boutique booths.  She returned from one building (there were two more buildings and several tents) saying she had found nothing.  I was still waiting for my sister-in-law.  I told her just as soon as she was there, we would search out a place that sold baby items.  Her other demand was that we go to Culver's which is one of the options we had offered for lunch suggestions.  Since as a group, we had not had a chance to agree on what we would do for lunch, I told her I couldn't say for sure we would be doing this.  We had brought a van full of ladies, I didn't know who would want to do what.  She became more insistent that we do what she wanted.  As it was barely 10AM, I told her we would make a decision closer to lunch.  I suggested a nearby bench for her to rest on, because I hadn't even been in the first building yet, and wanted to see what was there.  I browsed through the map handout given to us on arrival and spotted a booth that sold baby items in the second building.  As she did not want to go through the first building again, I told her that when I was done there, I would come and get her to find this particular baby booth in Building #2.  My sister-in-law, having arrived, we navigated through the sea of people, into the first very crowded building of arts and crafts, eager to spend our money. 
     My sister-in-law and another of her friends motored along into the next building, while I went back for our older saint, who, when I left, was settled on a bench.  Only when I returned, she was no longer there.  Scratching my head,  a part of me thought, well, she was becoming burdensome anyway, I can't help it if she didn't stay put.  But, the better part of me (thank goodness, I sometimes have one) said, better go look for her.  She had not wandered too far off, with soda in hand, complaining loudly to a lady trying to sell her items.  I sighed, probably an audible sigh.  How did I end up with this task?  I was not planning to be caretaker for the day.  And it wasn't so much that I minded looking after one of our elder ladies, but this particular lady has always been demanding, selfish, and socially backward, saying inappropriate things in every instance.  Her favorite topic of conversation (I think because she used to work as a labor and delivery nurse) is every church ladies choice of birth control or lack thereof.  She feels it is her business to comment on every pregnant woman's timeline of having children, and even insinuated to me on this particular trip that if I had tried the different "recipes" out there, I could have had a girl instead of my third boy.  Insulted as I was by this recommendation, I have dealt with her for a very long time, and knew the best thing to do was just to ignore the comment. 
     I mustered up as much patience as was in me, and guided her through the second building, in search of the baby booth.  We arrived, but did not find anything that appealed to her.  I asked what she would like to do next.  She wanted to go back to the bench.  I walked with her back to the bench, when she dropped the bombshell.  She told me that she could not get up without assistance, hinting that I should wait with her until lunchtime, another hour or so away.  My selfishness had shifted into fifth gear.  When was I going to get a chance to see anything?  I had paid admission money too.  A barrage of complaints welled up inside me.  I had come to enjoy myself.  I had wanted to fellowship with our ladies.  I wanted a day away from caring for people.  I did not utter these thoughts out loud.  And I think what I did next was the most selfish thing I have done in a long time.  I told her I would be back at lunchtime, salving my conscience, by asking if she needed anything before I went back on my merry way.  Now most people will say, I absolutely did the right thing.  I shouldn't have been expected to be nursemaid to this lady, who would not have even appreciated my "sacrifice".  But I know in my heart, especially after reading this passage, that I was wrong.  I should have let go of my selfish desires and been a servant.  I should have sat with her.  I think about her alone on the bench, waiting for lunchtime, and others who may have passed by.  What kind of a testimony was that?  How many people, would have seen this older lady sitting there, while the rest of her group (namely me, since none of our other ladies knew her need) hunted for treasures?  How heartless that must have seemed.  Some may say I did enough, but I didn't.  And thinking about it guts me. 
Courtesy of--

     Lord, I pray that the next time I want to act so selfishly, you will bring this occasion to my mind, to stop me.  How many times would Paul want to move on to a church who would have cared for him properly?  How many times would Paul have returned to preach to a church who hadn't grown and just didn't seem to get it?  How selfish I was this weekend?  Lord, help me to be a servant, and not just in actions, but thoughts as well.  I'm sorry for failing you so miserably, and for failing to be the witness I should have been.  Help me to do better next time.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Apple Bite

Today's passage:  Mark 8:36
     "For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?"

Apple Inc clipart image
     Innovator.  Visionary.  Entrepreneur.  Technology Genius.  Inventor.  These are only a few descriptors I have heard, referring to Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple, Inc.  His products have changed our world.  His death was not a huge surprise, his battle with cancer no big secret.  As with anyone who passes on from this life, I am sad for his family.  I also wonder about his eternal future.  He was once quoted in the Summer 1993 edition of the Wall Street Journal as saying:
"Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn't matter to me...Going to bed at night saying we've done something wonderful...that's what matters to me."
     I have no doubt he was able to go to bed at night knowing he had done something wonderful in this world, I just wonder how much peace he had about the next.  I researched many quotes he gave over the years of his life, some for which I could not find the sources.  Here are some quotes attributed to him:
     "Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life.  Don't be trapped by dogma--which is living with the results of other people's thinking.  Don't let the noise of other's opinions drown out your own inner voice..."  (Taken from a Stanford University Address in 2005)
     "I want to put a ding in the universe."  (I could not find the source.)
     "Here's to the crazy one, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes...the ones who see things differently they're not fond of rules...You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can't do is ignore them because they change things...they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do."  (I could not find the source.)
     "We have always been shameless about stealing great ideas."  PBS series, Triumph of the Nerds (1996)
     "Again, you can't connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backwards.  So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.  You have to trust in something--your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever.  This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life."  (Stanford University Address, 2005)
     "I would trade all of my technology for an afternoon with Socrates."  Newsweek, October 29, 2001
     "We want to stand at the intersection of computers and humanism."  (I could not find the source.)
     It may seem heartless to post about the death of a man who may not have known God, or if he knew Him, only in a "He might be out there" sort of way.  I do not write this to bring pain or judgement or criticism.  I just think that when anyone who we deem important passes from this life, it is important to take stock in our own lives, and examine for what or for whom we are living.  As testimonials poured in on the news stations, one image particularly caught my attention.  I could not get the image to embed here, but I have provided the link,, if you are interested in looking at it.  The very last image of this almost three minute news segment arrested me.  It was something I had not thought about before.  If you choose not to check out the link, I will describe it as best as I can.  Imagine a black background with a black Apple logo.  Just behind this is a white glow appearing from behind the logo with white writing on the black apple.  It is almost as if Jobs is speaking to us from the afterlife.  Somehow that glowing apple reminded me of something.  Although the idea for the logo itself is attributed to Isaac Newton under the apple tree, a more religious icon came to my mind.  A bite out of an apple.  What Bible story does that most frequently reference?  Of course, I would be talking about Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.  The Bible does not say that the fruit was an apple, but many of the artistic renderings picture just that.  I know Apple's CEO was not making any kind of reference to God or the Bible when he commissioned this logo, but isn't it a little ironic, that everything always points back to God?  The thought of what the bite from the apple symbolizes may have more significance than even he knew.  I have no way of knowing whether this innovative engineer is in Heaven or Hell.  I pray that as he closed his eyes on this earth for one last time, that he uttered a salvation prayer, if he had never done so before in his life.  From all the quotes of his life, it doesn't seem that he ever gave acknowledgement to the God of the universe.  He may have changed our world, but he has no power over the next.
   In an All Things Digital Conference on May 30, 2007, Steve Jobs was talking about how the ITunes software caused Apple to be the largest developer for Microsoft Windows.  Here is what he said:
     "It's like giving ice water to somebody in hell!"
     Let's pray that this was not a prophetic statement for the man himself.  The verse at the top of the post is my husband's favorite.  It really gets to the heart of what life is all about.  We might have creative leanings, we may have ingenious ideas, but if we never give credit to the Creator who put those ideas and dreams in us, we have this life only, and nothing in the next.  The life after this is eternal, I think I would rather be investing in that.

Monday, October 3, 2011

I Love to Know

Today's passage:  I Corinthians 8
     "...Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth.  And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know."
      I often say I am a fount of useless knowledge.  I know a little about a lot of things.  When I was younger, I may have come off as a know-it-all.  Maybe, even today, I still do.  What I have learned over the years, through God's love and help, is that knowing something doesn't mean a whole lot.  How that knowledge is applied is more important.  We call this wisdom.  But wisdom involves a whole lot of love.  Love for God, for His Word, for His direction.  How can I illustrate?
     My oldest son, who has mellowed a lot in recent years, was a handful to discipline from about 2 years to 5 years.  I was desperate for answers.  I thought I knew how to discipline.  I followed every Bible verse about sparing the rod and spoiling the child.  I couldn't understand why this boy was so incredibly stubborn.  Who would take spanking after spanking without relenting?  My husband and I were at a loss.  I grew tired of the advice to be consistent.  I was being consistent.  What was I doing wrong?  I read every Christian child rearing manual I could find, watched every DVD, listened to every audio CD on the subject, and I tried every method.  Nothing worked completely, but some things worked a little.  I wondered when the discipline would start "to take".  Then I came across some material that changed me.  What was my approach?  I was disciplining my child in knowledge, but was I disciplining him in love?  I thought I was.  I had failed to win this child's heart, and that was the key to unlocking how he behaved.  I confess, with all of his resistance, I started to become resentful of him.  I knew that was wrong, and I fought hard against it, but struggling hour after hour, where every thing was a fight, made it difficult not to feel this way.  I loved him, but I didn't like him very much, for a long time.  I started to make myself smile more, to ask him more sweetly, instead of ordering him, to keep my calm when handling the discipline.  I always started calmly, but after a half hour or so of still dealing with the same matter, I did lose my temper, on more than one occasion.  I cried myself to sleep, begging God for help when this happened. 
Courtesy of--

     As I changed my approach, I could see my son's behavior changing as well.  Now, I noticed that it bothered him more when he displeased me, something that didn't seem to make a bit of difference before.  Now, he succumbed to the correction quicker.  I am pleased to say that this approach has saved my relationship with my son.  It restored it.  I would never thought I could say that my oldest has a tender heart.  But he most definitely does.  I can't take all the credit.  God did a work in his heart and life as well when he accepted Christ.  I have no doubt that God allowed us to go through those trying times to hopefully be a help to others.  Nobody could give me the right advice, because it looked like I was doing everything right.  Nobody could see into my heart and see that I was doing it all wrong.  I was not disciplining my son from a place of love.  I was disciplining him from a place of power, authority, control.  These are not bad things by the way, but if not coupled with love,  they will get you nowhere.
     I had a lot of knowledge.  I had a lot of love.  But since I didn't apply this love to the knowledge I had, I nearly failed my son.  I'm thankful God was able to show me how to correct things, before it was too late.  I would hate to have not learned this lesson until his teenage years, and be unable to win him back.  Maybe somebody reading this has struggled the way I did.  You may know all the right things to do, but if you do not do them from a place of love, you will be unsuccessful.  I think I can safely say that carries into any part of our lives.
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