Monday, February 19, 2018

Dear Teachers

“Let my teaching drop as the rain, My speech distill as the dew, As raindrops on the tender herb, And as showers on the grass.” Deuteronomy 32:2 

I don’t know how you do it. I can’t wrap my mind around the sacrifices that you are willing to make. 

I see you, teachers, five days a week, being the care giver to my children, as well as 20 or so more. I see you adoring the well mannered ones and loving the ones crying out in unlovable ways. I can’t imagine because when I try to think about what you see, my heart shatters. 

Beyond your time and money sacrifices, beyond controlling the chaos that is your classroom, you give of yourself because sometimes nobody is giving to the innocent ones. You deplete reserves that you try to save for your own family because you know this kid needs it more.

I see you battling entitlement, arrogance, and the other defense mechanisms that kids throw up. Some because they are just kids and some because defense is all they know.

Teachers, you walk a fine line of teaching, loving, and sacrifice, without crossing into parental territory even if there may not be a parent over there. You are a target when kids who’ve never been taught respect, right from wrong, or love, are reprimanded for bad behaviors. You are abused by a few kids, a few parents, and never adequately appreciated or paid for what you put into this job.

The reward comes in the form of watching the impact you make, even if only with a few of the students you funnel through. The reward comes because you do something that you love, that you are passionate about. Those rewards are few and far between sometimes, but if you couldn’t see them, you wouldn’t keep doing this. 

I, a parent, need you to know that I appreciate you. I send my kids to school because I am confident that you are doing everything you know how, to take care of my children. Some of you carry the same faith as I, and that brings me comfort. 

I am praying for you.

I send my children to school because my faith is bigger than my fear. I send them because I believe that God has put YOU in their lives so that you can impact them or maybe so they can impact you. Hopefully, both will happen, in good ways.

You shouldn’t ever have to make the choice to sacrifice your life for theirs, but those times have come for some. This world is a sad place and that burden that you bear, to take care of a classroom full of kids, does not go unnoticed. 

I notice. 

I hope and pray that you feel the appreciation, the prayers, the love, and the admiration I have for what you do. I’m thankful for you and for the sacrifices you’ve made. 

You may be the only example of goodness in the lives of some of the kids you teach. You may be an example of kindness to others for a child that’s never received or seen freely given kindness. You may be the example and driving force for a child that has aspirations to become just like you. Each of these children are impressionable, and nobody understands that quite like you. 

I want you to know that while I can’t fathom how you do what you do, I don’t always see what you see, or experience what you experience,

I SEE you. 
I am THANKFUL for you.
I am PRAYING for you.

Keep fighting the good fight. You make a difference. 

Galatians 6:9 “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.”

Titus 2:7-8 “Likewise, exhort the young men to be sober-minded, in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility sound speech that cannot be condemned, that one who is an opponent may be ashamed, having nothing evil too say of you.”

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

More Than Just Love

"Mawwage, mawwage is what bwings us togevver today. Mawwage, that bwessed awwangement, that dream wivvin a dweam...Wove, twue tweasure your wove."

I'm sorry. I had to. It is one of my very favorite parts of one of my very favorite movies, and only fitting for a month like February. And if you aren't sure what movie I'm referring to...inconceivable. I'm not sure we can be friends anymore. It is, of course, The Princess Bride. I can't think of the words "true love" without thinking of Wesley and Princess Buttercup. I could write this whole post on movie quotes, but since that isn't the plan, I will restrain myself.

Just one clip:

On my facebook page a while back, I asked everyone to explain love. Guess what, nobody commented. Not one. I will chalk it up to love being difficult to describe and not that nobody loves me. I couldn't even come up with a good explanation myself. But it got me thinking about all that love is.

The Ancient Greeks came up with four types of love (some say seven or eight.) I couldn't find an Ancient Greek to ask for sure, but it doesn't matter because I'm not going to talk about all of them. You can Google it if you're curious. I do want to talk about one kind of love, though. AGAPE love.

Agape love is a noble love. It is selfless, and puts the good of others before ourselves. This love keeps on loving even when the object is unlovable, unresponsive, or just plain difficult. It doesn't have to be reciprocated. Agape love, is the Jesus kind of love. The kind of love that, in the New Testament, Jesus refers to as the "New Commandment." (John 13:34, 15:12,17, along with many others.)

The kind of love the Bible instructs us to have, that Jesus calls us to in 1 Corinthians 13, is agape love. Paul explains it perfectly, but sometimes we miss the forest for the trees. Paul says that we can have all of the greatest things, the most amazing gifts, but without being able to love as Jesus, those gifts mean nothing. Beautiful words, prophecies, voices of angels are nothing without love.

Paul says that we can do all the good deeds, give to the poor, sacrifice ourselves, but there is no profit in the good things without love. All consuming, selfless, unconditional love for everyone. Even if we have all the knowledge and all the faith, faith enough to move a mountain, without love, we are nothing.

Love is long lasting, and kind. It doesn't envy, it isn't boastful, or prideful, agape love isn't rude, selfish, provoked, nor does it think evil. Love doesn't find joy in immoral or unjust behaviors, but it does find joy in truth, even when the truth is hard. Let me tell you what it does. This unbelievable agape love carries burdens, believes in truth and goodness and the like, it hopes even when it feels hopeless, and it endures. Y'all it lasts forever, even when you're working cows and fixing fence.

This love NEVER FAILS. Everything else in this entire world will fail. Knowledge will vanish, tongues will cease, prophecies will fail, but love, twue wove, It. Never. Fails.

We absolutely cannot comprehend this kind of love, but that doesn't mean that we shouldn't strive for it. Our human nature fails us so very often, but through Paul, God lays out all the instructions we need to love. God calls us to love our neighbor, love our enemy, love our brothers, love our sisters, love Him, then Paul tells us what love is and what it is not. And we fail. We do it wrong. We are rude and prideful. We find joy in unfair behaviors. We are boastful and envious. God expects all of these things from us, but if we can find just an inkling of this amazing agape love, and hold onto it, it will never fail. God will never fail us because he is totally capable of agape love.

I'm going to touch on one more thing that I have learned. Because of our inability to grasp this Jesus style, agape love, we are incomplete. We have a hole. It is like a black hole, consuming all things in this world and it is never filled, never full, always desiring more, feeling empty. There is something that satisfies it, there is someone that makes us complete. It is not another person. It is not a drug, a vice, a drink, sex, or anything we can acquire in this fallen world.

We were created with a first love. Not Timmy from first grade or Ken the football star from high school. Little Susie isn't it and neither is college Barbie. God should be our first love.

Matthew 22:37-40 "Jesus said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets."

Revelation 2:4 (God speaking) "Nevertheless, I have this against you, that you have left your first love."

If you have not accepted, or have let go of that first love, you have a gaping hole. You will try to fill It, but it cannot be done. Without this first love you will wonder this world, hungry for something that you will never find. Anything you put into that hole will be devoured and leave you longing for something else. You will never find a spouse, a boy/girlfriend to feel whole. Your children won't complete you. Success is not enough. No addiction will ever fulfill you. All of these things will leave you wanting more.

If you want to feel whole, to be complete, to love with the kind of agape love the Bible calls us to, you have to seek God as your first love. You have to be filled with His unconditional love to be able to feel full and in turn be able to pour it out for those around you. This is just unfathomable for us. We can't understand any of it. Even as I type this, I am awestruck and baffled by this kind of love.

Paul also tells us in 1 Corinthians 13:9-12, "We know in part, and we prophecy in part, but when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away. When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known." We can't perfectly understand God's perfect love because we haven't met Him face to face, but when we do, His love will consume us, and with understanding, we will see clearly. That is a promise that I look forward to.

I love each of you. I am able to partially understand what that means because I am filled with God's love. But, I will fail you. I will be rude and unkind. I'll envy and boast and sometimes find joy in iniquity. And I'll be sorry, but I won't be able to help myself because I am full of humanity. One of these days I'll be capable of true, whole, agape love, but until then, until I see God face to face, this is what I'll remember:

"And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is LOVE." 1 Corinthians 13:13

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Woman, Why are you Weeping?

At any given moment there are a million reasons to cry. Amirite?
Sometimes we cry and sometimes we overreact a little. Especially women. Hormones are the devil's work. 

Not that men can't be emotional or overreact. This isn't a gender issue. I better throw that in for good measure. 

Jesus wept and once he overturned tables in the temple. Point: He also experienced emotion.

I'm off topic and I've just begun. Hang on, I'm coming back around. 

When Jesus was crucified, He was put in a tomb, a cave, if you will. They rolled a gigantic stone in front of the door to seal it. I figure it took several big strong men to seal that bad boy up. There was no chance someone was taking the body of the "King of the Jews." But there was a twist. There's always a twist.

In John 20 we are told about an emotionally distraught woman who loved her King fiercely. 

Mary Magdalene went to Jesus’ tomb and found the stone rolled away. She frantically went to find the disciples and tell them that “they” took Jesus’ body and she doesn’t know where it is. She assumed that someone had gathered enough people to unseal the tomb and take Jesus' body. She had to find Him and she needed everyone who loved Jesus to help her.

They all ran back to where Jesus had been laid and found His burial linens folded in the tomb. With that discovery, everyone left except Mary. She faithfully sat outside and wept. She felt like she had lost Jesus. She was grieving and confused. 

Once again, she looked inside the tomb again where she saw two angels. That would be a shock wouldn’t it? She's in denial so she keeps looking thinking that her mind is decieving her. That He will be there next time she looks up, but instead she sees angels. They asked her why she was crying, to which she replied, “Because they have taken away my Lord and I do not know where they have laid Him.” 

She can’t find Jesus, y’all. And that is a distressing thought. She lost her Savior, her Lord, her Love. 

There are lost people in this world desperate for Jesus. They are trying to fill that void with anything. It is a black hole of nothingness aching to be filled. That void has one puzzle piece that fits and until they find it, the hole remains. You can try to fill a hole like that with addiction, with people, with anger, lust, hate, false hope, but it is all consuming and it will not be fully satisfied without the one piece that fits it. That piece is Jesus Christ.

There are saved people in this world desperate for Jesus. They’ve lost Him. They’ve lost sight of their Savior because of grief, sadness, depression, sin. This home away from home has cast a shadow too deep to see. Too much focus on the world has distracted them. 

As Mary turns, Jesus is standing there, asking why she is crying. And in her shadow of fear, grief, and confusion she thinks He is the gardner. She begins to beg Him to tell her where they’ve taken Jesus.
He says, “Mary!” And as the shadow lifts. Her Jesus is before her, raised from the dead. 

How often are we desperate for Jesus? We’re searching high and low, and yet He stands before us. We just can’t see Him for all the junk we have going on in our lives. We blame people for "taking" Him. We are angry with Him for leaving. We need a little reflection to see that He's not gone anywhere. We are letting our emotion and love for all the wrong things cast a deep shadow.

Jesus is right in front of us. He never left. We just got confused and a little lost but if we clear our own thoughts, the world's lies, we will see Him. 

Have you lost Jesus in your life? Been there, done that. But I found him. I found him in the little things, in the big things, in His word, and on my knees, I found Him. He’s waiting for you to realize he isn’t the gardner, He’s the Savior that never left you.

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Thursday, January 25, 2018

Finding My Identity In A Dry Desert


Let’s talk about it. I didn’t want to at first. I am getting old and set in my ways, but I realize that the only thing that stays the same is that everything changes. Well mostly everything.

I’ve changed. I started Diary of a Dairy wife in March of 2014. This was my first post, "In the Beginning..." and I kind of laid out my insecurity and lack of direction. The truth is, I felt God telling me to write. He was telling me to just put my toes in the water and He would be right there with me. At the time I was chin deep in agvocating. I was trying to be a good farmer’s wife, a good mom, a good Christian, and an excellent advocate for agriculture. I was taking opportunities to grow my communication skills and learning more about agriculture everyday, beyond being immersed in the dairy at home. I felt God telling me to write for other people. After years of insecurities and telling God that I wasn’t cut out for public writing, I gave in and started.

At the time I had a hard time identifying myself. My identity was totally tied up in who I was to everyone around me. Don’t get me wrong, it still is, so is yours and everyone else’s. The problem was that I was “just” a farmer’s wife, “just” a mom, “just” trying to be a blogger, and out of that, Diary of a Dairy Wife was born.

The mistake I made wasn’t in my “justs” it was in what God was calling me to do. He was telling me that beyond all of those lowly titles, I was His. He wanted me to write for more than agriculture. My mistake was in the negotiation of who I was and where I was going.

I’ve never been a consistent writer. Try as I may, I haven’t found the balance. A few weeks ago I found myself in a place where I was sad, angry, broken, scared, defeated, discouraged, and I had totally lost who I was supposed to be. You see, I’ve spent the last couple of years seeking God more. In His word, in words He’s given others, and just in my heart, I’ve searched. When I found myself in this desert, I knew that God hadn’t brought me there, I had stumbled there on my own. When God asked me to start writing and stick my toes in the water, I did, but I did it my way. I did what I wanted and over the next almost 4 years the water that I had stuck my toes in, was slowly drying up to become dehydrated. It was my desert.

As I trod through my self-made sand dunes I could hear Him calling. It was like walking into a dark, uninhabited house, feeling my way through the total absence of light, chasing a voice coming from a closet in a back room. As I got closer I could see a sliver of light, also known as hope, a drop of water on a parched tongue, coming from under a closed door. I knew what I was headed for, but I didn’t know how to get there or what would be waiting for me. I heard the call and felt desperate to find the source. I prayed and pleaded for some sort of revelation. That revelation came the day I talked about earlier. It came through all of those negative emotions and touched my heart and at the same moment, I reached the light.

God asked me to write for Him, not for myself, not my way or the highway and that selfishness took me straight down the path of dryness. I finally got so dehydrated and desperate that I, somewhat angrily, asked Him, “What do you want from me?!” And He said, “To do what I asked you to do in the beginning. To write for Me. To be who you are for my glory.” And so here I am.

That’s not to say that I won’t continue to write about agriculture or my family or my farm. I will, but I will do it His way. I understand that some of my readers are here because I’m a “farm” blogger, and I still am a dairy farmer and a dairy farmer’s wife, this just isn’t that girl’s diary anymore. I hope y'all don’t tuck tail and head for the hills, but I’ll understand if this isn’t your journey.

It’ll take me some time to develop. I’m winging it. I'm Googling and YouTubing how to do all this in my free time...whenever that is.

I’ve been trying to figure out exactly how to do this. What to name this. How to tell y'all. It’s been brain numbing in a way. I think I know, then I second guess myself. Then I pray. I got some motivation today, though.

This morning I was reading in Galatians. Paul wrote that book. Do you just love him? I do. He is a favorite. Paul was Saul and he was a terror. He thought he was doing right, but he was doing it all wrong. God came to him in a literal vision of blindness, and straightened Saul right out, and becoming a new man in Christ, Saul became Paul. He was a sinner saved by great grace, just like me. Saul walked through the dark house and found the light. He was a hot mess that God turned into a hot mess with a bad history and a bright future. Paul, in his brokenness from his past, became a great leader that God used to influence the masses. I can’t get enough Paul, y'all.

Anyhow, in Galatians 1:10-13 Paul says, “For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ. But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

I am no longer "just" the dairy wife. I have grown my identity and I will will do my best to be a diary wife that is a bondservant of Christ. I will write with the words given to me. I won’t seek to please men or myself, but I will seek to please God.

I want to add something to my already lengthy post. I am not scholarly, nor am I theological. I’ve never formally studied religion and I don’t read every commentary that anyone has ever written. I read God’s word and God speaks to me through his words. When I desire better understanding, I will research what a verse means. I will read commentary. But guys, God reveals to me what I need to know. He shows me how His words apply to my life. And anytime I write, I ask Him to guide me, to lead me, and to speak through me. I want to be a tool for Him. Not my will, not my way, not my words, but His.

I’m going to fail. I’ve already failed at this. I’m not perfect. I’m not the “go to” expert on anything Jesus. I’m just a sinner saved by God’s grace. I’m just a person trying to let God pour into me so much that He overflows into the words that I write.

I’m probably doing this “rebranding” thing all wrong, all out of order, but like in life, I’m just winging it. You’ll see my name change (hopefully) in a short time.  I don’t know what will show up in your news feed after facebook changes algorithms, but if you want to keep up with me you can click to follow my page as well as “like” it. Until the change is approved, on facebook I will be “Diary of a Dairy Wife.” If all goes as planned, you’ll get a handy notification that says, “A page you follow has changed its name.”

****UPDATE: Facebook would not allow my name change as it might "mislead current followers who have liked your page." While I have no intention of misleading anyone, I will just continue to use Diary of a Dairy Wife page name and this blog address until I make further decisions about how to move forward. I'm just gonna continue to do what I do on here. I apologize for putting the cart before the horse. I just got a little too excited. ****

I hope you’ll travel this journey with me and take the fork in my blogger road that I should have walked four years ago. I don’t know how much it’ll change, but I wanted to lay it out for those of you who take the time to read. I’m prayerful that your life and spirit are touched even though I’m stumbling around like a lost toddler. Change is hard, but this is one I look forward to.

Bless y'all for putting up with me!

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

It's the Follow Through That Counts

It's coming up on the new year and you know what that means. New Year, new everyone. We all gonna be new. Except that we aren't. Good intentions and all that. I do try to make a commitment to God in a new way every year. To commit to pray for someone or something every day or to read a new devotional or part of the Bible. I usually let God show me what that commitment should be. I       hadn't figured out exactly where that will be. Today helped me with some clarity though.

Today has been a journey for me. Not a long one since I didn't go so far as to put on pants other than pajama ones or leave the house at all, but a journey nonetheless.

I cleaned out my closet and dresser. Heaven help, but I have a problem. I just don't like to let things go. Especially T-shirts. Keep ALL THE TEES. Don't fit? Doesn't matter. Holes? Character. Stains? Yeah, I'll work in that one. I'm not so much a collector as I am just a keeper. I have told you that I'm a control freak, but that tendency leads to not being able to let things go sometimes. I don't like to feel like I need something I just gave away. I don't hoard so much as I have controlled chaos.

I managed to get rid of a box of stuff and tidy up the things I kept. It's a good feeling. Now if I can just channel that energy on getting my accounting in order. Lord, but I hate this time of year for that. Anyhow, I just took the chaos that I had and made it look a little more controlled. Folded and stacked. Hid and tucked. Like when I put my pants on the day after Christmas. "Yeah, they fit...I got them zipped." she said while holding her breath.

I sat down tonight to do my devotional and found my heart so heavy, as it has been for a while. There aren't any particular reasons that I could articulate, it is just heavy. My mind swirls and blurs with stresses and worries that would be better given to God. The problem is that I can't calm the turbulence in my mind enough to make coherent thoughts. I can't bring them to my Savior because I can't put my finger on the exact problem. I can sort of establish the themes of my uncertainties, but I can't name them.

So I ready my devotional. And I read my Bible. And I prayed over them. And they, of course, spoke to me, but not in a way that calmed my anxieties.

As I began to talk with God about how I'm feeling He made something very clear to me. The problem isn't the swirling thoughts, it's not my inability to focus or form coherent thought, the problem is me. The problem is that I'm trying to "parent" God.

Let me elaborate. When you are a parent you desire the best for your little people. You want to teach them things and watch them learn and grow. You want to let them try, fail, and then succeed. But mostly you wanting to micromanage them. Because it's easier and it saves your sanity. You say, "Ok. This is what I want you to do, now try it." Then you watch as they totally put the sheet on upside down or throw spaghetti sauce across the stove and you lose your mind so you say, "No! Not like that. Here let me do it."

Seriously, I can't have my little people in the kitchen. I can't. I need to breathe in a paper bag when I'm watching them stir something or run the glue gun or make a bed. It is something that apparently disappears when you become a grandparent, but it works overtime when you're the mom. It is like listening to your first grader read...and they sound out the same word for 25 minutes and you're like "Spot. The world is spot! [deep sigh of relief]"

Please tell me you know what I'm talking about. I cannot be alone in this.

Anyhow...back to me being the problem. I'm doing this to God. I pray for something or someone or myself. I give it to God and He starts working on it. Then I see that it isn't going the way I think it should and I'm freaking out, "Wait, God...not like that...I can't do it, but this isn't how YOU should do it." and I didn't even realize that I was interfering.

That's usually how it is even though we don't comprehend we're doing it. Good intentions and all that.

While God is revealing my arrogance, I look at myself. I analyze my heart. It has cracks for people that are hurting. It has broken spots from times in my past. My heart has been stretched and pulled and expanded and deflated more times than I can count. My heart has a lot of hardening in places that should be soft. It's saggy in places that it shouldn't be. My heart is a lot like my December body. (Can I get an AMEN?!)

Our hearts will change with life. They will break, sometimes shatter. They will expand and fill and deflate with loss. Our hearts will harden at times, just so we can survive and soften at times when we allow someone to touch them. We have to guard our heart. In order to do that we have to trust God with it. We have to work at keeping it healthy. We can't let the world change what we've given to God and that is hard.

My new resolve is, if I plan to get back on the healthy train for New Year's, and if I'm gonna commit myself to God in a new way and work on a new aspect of my faith, I have to work on getting my heart back in shape too. I need to hand it over to God, right along with all of my prayers. I have to stop telling God how things should be done because while I may know what is best for my little people, I am God's little people. And I have no business telling Him how to run His business.

My heart is heavy because it's out of shape. It needs a tune up, about like my winter attitude (I hate cold.). And the only attitude adjustment I know will change me comes from God. His ways are higher than my ways, and much more effective. I doubt this will change my ability to let the girls cook supper or make the bed, but who knows, God works miracles, raised people from the dead, cured blindness and disease. There could still be hope for me. But only if I  quit trying to micromanage Him.

This New Year take a look at your heart, an even closer one than you'll take at your body. Make an honest evaluation. What does your heart look like? What does your faith look like? You might find commitment to those things more rewarding than losing a few inches. We all have good intentions, but it's the follow through that counts.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Attention Gettin'

****I find myself preaching the same sermon in different ways. I have added the beginning of this post as an afterthought. After I read my last few posts on my blog. After I knew that God was laying the same thoughts on my heart. The last post I made had some humor, but I'm having a hard time finding much humor in the fact that this message is continually in my mind. I'm writing it differently but using the same words and ideas. I'm sorry if it is as redundant to you as it is to me, but I'm gonna write it again anyway.****

Who is the ruler of the world?

We like to think that we are the rulers of our own world. That we have the ability to control our realities. 
As Christians, we like to say God is the ruler. He created it, created us. He formed our world from nothing, knit us in our mother's womb. He is the ruler of this domain and all others. But is that true?

I believe that God is THE Creator. He made the planets, the light, the animals, water, sky, and knit each of us in our mother's womb. He did all the things the Bible says He did. I don't have to explain it. I don't have to justify it. I am allowed my belief. I believe that the fall of mankind was in the Garden of Eden and it came at the hands of Satan and weak humanity. I believe that God gave us the free will to either live with the belief that this world is all that there is, or the free will to surrender to Him. In this case, I surrender, white flag. Not because I need someone to blame, but because my faith allows me to believe that good wins. That at the hands of The Almighty, evil is crushed. That the light overcomes the darkness and the darkness does not comprehend it. (John 1:5)

A couple of months ago I wrote about Lazarus. Maybe 65 people saw this post. I talked about the "If-fing" and how Mary and Martha told Jesus that "IF" He had been there their brother, Lazarus wouldn't have died. The last few days have reminded me of those verses. As we have seen yet another horrific tragedy unfold in Texas, I have watched unbelievers along with some believers ask where God was. How He could allow His people to be slaughtered. I have seen the "if" in the hearts of people. 

It all breaks my heart. The evil, the sadness, the "if," the turning on each other, and some loss of faith. I've seen how people think that prayers are useless because God didn't display His power through a miracle in that church. Do you know where else God didn't display His power? On Calvary. When He watched His Son be mocked, spat on, hanged from a cross at the hands of the very people He was giving His life for. Our God doesn't ever say that He will intervene on our behalf, He says, "Do not fear." He says that He is with us. He says, "These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." (John 16:33) 
We are not promised a smooth ride, we are promised a landing to our final destination. The strength of our faith is measured in the trials of this world. 

In a couple of verses God talks about the "ruler of this world." He is referring to Satan, to evil. The Lord created this world, but He is not the ruler. The poor decision making of humanity allowed a new ruler and he places no value on life, yours, mine, or any other. 
John 12:31-32, "Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out. And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself." In John 14:30, "I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming, and he has nothing in Me."

Y'all, this is serious. If you are a child of God and you have faith in His authority, and you believe that God is allowing tragedy and trials in this world to get the attention of unbelievers, listen closely, YOU ARE WRONG. Oh He wants their attention, but not as badly as He wants ours. 

God allows much sorrow because we chose for this world to be ruled by evil and the only line of defense we have is that some of us have surrendered our free will back to God and we are followers of Christ. We have left a gaping hole in the game plan. God is allowing the evil to rear its head because we have backed off from our responsibilities. God is not trying to get the attention of nonbelievers, He is not making this happen to prove that the world should turn to Him. He is allowing us to destroy ourselves, because of our own choices, and we are standing on the sidelines blaming terrorism, bigotry, unbelief, legislation, or leaders. 

We are saying, "Well God, IF you had been there...." 

And you know what God is probably wanting to scream? Well, IF you were really turning to me. IF your surrender was true. IF you were living IN the world and not OF the world. IF you had faith the size of a mustard seed...IF you were loving your neighbor. IF you were as busy praying for souls as you are praying for your own successes...

"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God." Philippians 4:6 
Pray for ALL THE THINGS. Give thanks for ALL THE THINGS. Be anxious FOR NOTHING. For none. of. the. things.

We have all the tools we need in the toolbox provided by God. But here we are on a job site using a stick and a rock to hammer a nail. The Bible has the answers for each and every believer out there. 

God wants our undivided attention. He wants us to not be anxious. He wants us to pray and exercise our faith in Him. He wants us to believe without seeing. God doesn't allow the world to be the world to get the attention of humans who aren't His children. He wants His children to remember who they surrendered their worldly will to. He wants OUR attention. Stop trying to find a reason, someone to blame, a place to point a finger, because just like when we were kids, a finger pointing out leaves 3 pointing back at us. 

These words aren't mine. They are Gods and we need to see them and put them to use in our hearts. John 12:44-47
"Then Jesus cried out and said, 
"He who believes in me, believes not in Me but in Him who sent Me. And he who sees Me sees Him who sent Me. I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness. And if anyone hears My words and does not believe, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world.
Jesus didn't come to judge the world, but to save it. If He didn't come to judge the world, what in tarnation are we doing trying to judge everything and everyone? We are supposed to be a continuation of Jesus' light, praying for others, guiding others, abiding in the light. 

We are failing, but we have hope. We can walk in the light. We can do all things because the Lord strengthens us. We need to get it together. 

The ruler of this world won't win. He's already lost and that makes the battle today all the more fierce for him. He'll never win the war, so he gives his all in every, tiny, miserable battle. Don't be a casualty in a war that's already been won. The ruler of the world isn't the same as the ruler of your heart so don't give power to the darkness. Light it up, y'all. 

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Matters of Responsibility and Light Shining

What's wrong with the world?

How many times a day do you ask that?

What is wrong with us?

I have an answer.

We have a problem with responsibility.
We like to blame.
We like to finger point.
We like to bicker.
We like to complain and cry about what someone else is or isn't doing.

The problem is not with someone else's responsibility or lack thereof;
The problem is with SELF (personal) responsibility.

When things happen in your life, take a minute and assess the decisions that you made.
Say, "Self, how did I contribute to this?" or "Self, what should I have done differently?" And then own up to the fact that you probably could have done something a little differently.

***As a general disclaimer, this isn't applicable in every situation. I do understand.
The people who were shot this weekend couldn't have done anything different. Some circumstances are beyond our control without a doubt. Kids that grow up in bad situations can't control their environment. People can't control health issues, etc. I am not talking about those kinds of situations here so we don't need to discuss the obvious.***

Now that's out of the way, I shall proceed:

Let me tell you something that you don't want to hear:
It ain't your momma's fault.
It ain't your daddy's fault.
It ain't the school's fault.
It ain't the preacher's fault.
It ain't the president's fault.
It absolutely isn't the dog's fault. (What IS that smell?)
It wasn't the gun's fault, the hotel's fault, the political affiliation's fault nor was it God's fault.

When a shooter pulls a trigger it is THEIR VERY OWN fault.
When you tattoo your face and can't get a job, it is YOUR fault.
When you are running from the police and something bad happens, it is YOUR fault.
When someone leaves the gate open...well, that is always someone else's fault. Always.
When evil and hate rear their ugly head, it is MY FAULT.

Wait. Huh? What she say?

I'm going to take a minute to address the Christians in the house. I'm gonna call them out. If what I say doesn't bother you, you must be doing it all right. If it steps on your toes, GOOD, God has been kicking me in the knees about it and you need to join this fun.

Y'all, we have been failing for generations. We have been slipping. We have compromised our values, shifted our focus, and got flat out lazy.

I'm not even talking about hot button issues. I am talking about how we have let ourselves be IN this world and not OF it. We turn a blind eye to evil. We welcome hate. We have been watching the systematic decline of God in our lives without blinking an eye. And guess what we say, "Ooohhh girl, look at her. She needs Jesus. Whew. Does she ever. I'm glad I don't have any flaws like that! My sins aren't as bad as hers."

If you are a Christian, you believe that Jesus came to this Earth, lived a sinless life, died a painful and humiliating death all so that you can have an eternity with Him. And knowing all of that, you have willingly opened your hand and let His presence slip through your fingers. And by you, I mean me. I fail daily.

God tells us that the world hated Him, so it is going to hate you (John 15:18) why wouldn't it?
He tells us the world doesn't understand His light. (John 1:5)
God says in John 16:33 that the world will suck, but never fear, He's taken care of it.

I really enjoy the book of John in case you didn't notice.

I'll take the liberty of linking to a page of verses that talk about personal responsibility here. Just so you know, none of those verses say, "Hurry, find someone else to blame as quickly as possible."

Ok, back on track. We have stopped feeling responsible for the spreading of The Gospel. (Mark 16:15)

If you want to blame someone for the decaying of this troubled world, you have to understand that you play a part. You won't change the entire world with your personal change of heart and commitment to God and His plan, but you will change the world of the people around you. You will be different and everyone around you will take notice. Your heart will soften to things and break in ways you didn't think possible.
When you truly find your home in Jesus, you will learn what it means to love others.

Sidebar: I don't like everyone. Not even close to very many people, but in Jesus I am learning to love people because they are His.

My kids do not always like each other and that sometimes breaks my heart (and my brain) but they are both mine and I long for them to get along. Can you imagine what Jesus must feel like? How many times a day is he banging his head off a wall? He's probably thinking, these kids were already the death of me once, can't they just be nice and love each other before they put me in another grave?!

Christians, we are complacent. When we see that someone else is a sinner so we don't seem to think we need to do any better because Lord knows we aren't as bad as so-n-so over there. Bar on Saturday church on Sunday. Bless their hearts.

Bless ours, y'all. Bless our hearts. SELF RESPONSIBILITY, take some. We all sinners.

It is not comfortable to be different. It isn't easy. We don't blend in when we are light in a dark world.

You know what we've done? We've made our 4 year old selves ashamed. Yes we have.

When we were 4 we sang a song: This Little Light of Mine. And we meant it, until we didn't.
And now we've done gone and hid it under a bushel and let Satan whew (blow) it out, and we have failed to let it shine. We should be so embarrassed...

I shuffled some songs tonight while I controlled the chaos that is my home, and this song came on:
Courageous by Casting Crowns. Y'all click that link and listen to it...(The movie is excellent also)

"We were made to be courageous....The only way we'll ever stand is on our knees with lifted hands."

When did we stop seeking justice, loving mercy, and walking humbly with our God? That moment, THAT was when we not only failed God, but ourselves, our kids, our world. We were made to be courageous and we have just been cowardly. Someone might think we are different or weird or too much or too bright for the darkness and we let our light dim and flicker out.

We have to take some responsibility for the world we are living in.

If you aren't a Christian and you've managed to make it through this, thanks for sticking around. I know a lot of Christians aren't very Christian-like. They can be some pretty nasty people, I really, really know, I've grown up around too many to count. I hope that you don't base your opinions on those. I'd like to be the exception.  If you don't believe in God, that's your prerogative, you get to do that. We can still be friends. We can especially be friends if you are good people. If you know how to take personal responsibility and call it like it is, I like those folks.

Fact is, we live in a free country. We have rights that were handed down to us because people were brave and made sacrifices and shed blood for them. Freedom of religion is a favorite of mine. It is sad to watch us take that for granted.

I'm gonna leave you with a question:
If tomorrow the first amendment was amended to remove our freedom of religion and they came for your Bible and your basis of faith, how much of it would you know by heart? How much of it could you pass on to your children? If you never again had the opportunity to open that Bible that sits on your nightstand collecting dust, how useful would you be to God?

We were made to be courageous, y'all. How much courage have you shown lately?