In John 10:10 Jesus promises His followers abundant life. This blog is about my life as His follower.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Warning: Rant Post

My youngest two sons, ages 18 & 16 are driving me nuts!

OK, so I may very well have already been nuts even before they came along, or for sure by the time they became teens. But still, they really are getting to me.

Great marytr that I am, I feel like I do a lot for them. Feel like I go out of my way to pack them great lunches and ensure we have nutritious dinners together. Plan my schedule around their events. Go to any sporting event in which they particpate, even if it is a 2hr drive after a work day followed by a 1 1/2 hour drive to get home. Try to foster a home life that involves prayer and seeking after God. Anyway....you get the idea.

But their perception of me and my perception are not at all the same. According to them there seems nothing that I do right. Life is a never ending litany of hearing how I didn't do this or that, or did such and such wrong, or that I'm too negative, or that I should do this or that for them.

Agggghhhh, I'm letting these guys really get to me!

Any other parents of teenagers out there? Do your kids ever act entitled and unappreciative? (Although the Bible is clear that we're not to compare ourselves to others I'm here trying to find others who feel the same so I won't feel like quite such a failure. So I can say, see so and so is someone who I really like and he has the same challenges that I do with my teens)

Friday, November 26, 2010

It's not easy forgiveness that's the problem, it's denial

For my new job I have to drive quite a distance, and for some time due to traffic, so I've taken to checking books on CD out from the local county library. Recently I've been listening to a trilogy The Seasons of Grace by Beverly Lewis. These books have got me thinking on some things.

I've been thinking about various relgious groups' approach to sin in the life of their followers. I've never been comfortable with how some groups require their members to do actions, a pentance of some kind, as part of the process of forgiveness. I think of Bible passages such as Titus 3:4-6, 2 Corinthians 5:15-17, Psalm 130:3-5, 1 John 1:4-10 that show God's forgiveness. I see that God is gracious to give us forgiveness based on His character, not on the basis of our deeds or worthiness.

However, I think the concern for many is that if we offer an “easy forgiveness”, that sin and it’s results will be neglected. In retrospect I think that the Christian tradition I’ve lived much of my life around has somewhat done that very thing; or more certainly, I can see how in the past, in my eagerness to emphasize the forgiveness of God, I’ve not always fully dealt with the sin.

The problem with that is that the sin itself does have repercussions. The reason God considers some actions as sin is because they harm ourselves or others. So, even though we can live in His forgiveness and without guilt, we still need to deal with our sin so we can be healthy and mature. We need to look at what went wrong and why, at who all it affected and if there are actions we need to take to make amends to those we’ve hurt by our sin, or if there are changes we need to make in our life to avoid this sin in the future. Sometimes even though forgiveness is given instantly, it may take time for the people whom we have hurt to process through their own emotions before we can re-establish relationships.

All of this takes time and is a process. Yet we live in an instant, micro wave, society. But I can tell you that as I look back on my life and those with whom I’m close, that we never grow and have the kind of life and relationships that we want unless we go ahead and engage in this process; it’s one of those things that must happen sooner or later.

What about you, do you ever struggle with achieving the balance between forgiveness and dealing with sin?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

A special Sunday

As I've mentioned here before, I have to work to refrain from being negative, critical and a complainer. It is only as I spend time in the Word, letting the Holy Spirit change the way I think, that I can choose to live differently.

By Saturday night I'd just about lost my will to even try; I was feeling discouraged and negative. As I went to bed I promised myself that I would refrain from the temptation to lick my wounds in private, to isolate, and instead I would make myself go to church the following morning. I mean, after all here I was praying that God would empower me to change my attitude, who knows that He might not use the service to do that very thing?

This morning I woke up to the phone ringing, a fact which I totally ignored. Then my cell phone rang with my son's ring tone (need I mention that this was the son whose been giving me all kinds of grief lately?!) I answered the phone to find out that he was on Hwy 2 and his friend could drive him no further since his friend did not have chains for his car; my groggy, sleep laden, brain was slowly grasping that this must mean that it snowed last night. I assured him that I'd be right there to pick him up. I quickly dressed and went outside to see that beautiful sight of first snow. The world dusted with that pristine whiteness. How could even my morning crabby self not rejoice in such beauty and splendor!

Church was really something. It reminded me of why I love belonging to a local group of Believers.

Unfortunately the pastor fainted between the two services and had to leave via ambulance. A fact of which, since I arrived to the second service just a few minutes late, I was unaware. The music worship time was, as always, a time when I felt brought into the presence of God. When I felt privileged to get to praise His great and awesome name. Then one of the leaders got up and explained about the pastor and, since the pastor was not there to preach, this man shared from his own heart what God has been teaching him.

This leader who shared is not a public speaker kind of guy. He's a recently retired CPA. But he's a man who has a genuine relationship with the savior, and in whose life God is working; so of course he has something to share. He gave a good word for about 6 or 7 minutes. It blessed me to see how God works in everyone's heart and life who is open; this brother's word that God's been working in his life validated that truth. Then he said that since it's the week of Thanksgiving, he wanted to open it up for anyone to share with the group what they are thankful concerning.

As I heard my brothers and sisters share, my heart just overflowed. I felt so grateful to be part of this group, so grateful to get to have each of them in my life. There were a couple of men there who I knew had lost jobs this past year during this time of economic trouble, yet there they were expressing words of gratitude for God's goodness and faithfulness. There was a woman rejoicing in the pain she'd encountered as a youngster growing up in a home where fighting and bad feelings had existed between her parents that had made her own life troublesome, yet here she was giving thanks because she appreciated so deeply the wonderful husband, children, and family she enjoys today. A woman who I greatly admire was transparently admitting that she's sought to avoid calls from a woman who was an incredibly time demanding and difficult person, who suffers from debilitating anxiety, but that just the night before God has used her to take the woman to the ER and minister to her through prayer and His Word. Repeatedly as people shared, my heart was blessed by their humility, openness, and grateful attitudes. It is indeed wonderful to be a part of a local family in Christ!

What about you, has God blessed you recently through your church?

Friday, November 19, 2010

Choosing to Believe

This morning as I was spending time reading the Bible the following words from 1 Peter 4:19B caught my attention:

"trust yourself to God who made you, for He will never fail you."

The context of these words was that Peter was writing to Christians who were undergoing persecution for being Christians. In the preceding verses Peter had talked about how if you suffer for doing wrong, it's not to your credit, but that you should count yourself blessed if you suffer for following Christ's ways.

I'm not being persecuted for being a Christian. But there are certainly things in my life which, through no actual fault of my own, do not go well for me. There are things with which I'm struggling. There is stuff about which I'm frustrated. There are some situations that I do not know how to make what would feel "right" to me.

So today I'm choosing to remind myself of these few words.

I think trusting myself to God means that even when I don't see what I think I should be seeing, I choose to believe good about God. Choose to believe that He really does have it all in control and is working things for my good in terms of the big picture scheme of things. Today I'm choosing to trust myself to my creator and to remind myself that no matter how things may seem, the truth is that He will never fail me.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Growing in God

Over at Kingdom Bloggers this week we are each sharing about something God has changed our mind about.

I'd be interested to know, either here, or over there, what's something God's changed your mind about?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Always an Arnold fan

The other night Arnold Schwarzenegger was interviewed on Jay Leno and my husband John recorded it so we could watch the interview together. While I was watching the interview, I remembered why I've always liked the man and appreciated his term as governor of California.

He wouldn't talk about who he voted for as the new governor, or how he felt about who won, but he repeatedly insisted that we've got to get past party politics, learn to compromise, and move ahead in California. As always, I appreciated both his tact and his humor. My ever frugal husband John adored when he heard that Arnold makes his family stick to 5 minute showers since we have issues with having enough water in California!

It's been hard times in both California and the rest of the country these past few years and I hate that it's all been blamed on Arnold here in California. I want to take a few moments to note some of the wonderful things Arnold did manage to do while in office:
  • As a person who ran a business, I was over the top delighted with the workers compensation reform that's taken place.
  • Then there's the endless list of environmental laws, of reducing greenhouse gases and of having our energy come from 33 percent renewables
  • He pushed though proposition 49, referred to as "The After School Education and Safety Program Act of 2002."
  • He pushed through propositions 57 & 58, both of which were not popular but were necessary. They were a valid attempt to help solve some of the state's financial problems. But, obviously, they did not solve the problems. He's had to make a lot of unpopular cuts but what else could he do given the state's economic crunch?
  • He's always been supportive of gay rights and civil unions but has not supported same sex marriages. A fact that I've appreciated and for which he's been highly criticized.
  • I don't know that it has helped California per say, but I've always appreciated his wife and his involvement to the Special Olympics which are a cause near and dear to my heart since I've spent many years working with Developmentally Disabled adults.
I appreciated the comment he made during the Leno interview that:

"You can't go around and declare victory about all of the things we have done when, in fact, too many people are out of work, too many people suffering and too many people have no homes or losing their homes,"

There's definitely still a lot to be done in California.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Happy Birthday to Dylan

Today is my middle son's 18th Birthday.

These last couple of years we've experienced some pretty intense tension between us. I think part of that has been due to the very fact that he is becoming a man and becoming his own person.

As I contemplate his step into official "adulthood" today I find myself thinking back to the child he once was, the vision God spoke to my heart about Dylan's destiny, and my gratitude for the person who is Dylan.

There are a few images that will always remain vivid for me regarding Dylan as a boy. When he was 3 & 4 yrs old and the puzzle king; he always wanted to do new and more difficult puzzles. The time after his father had taken him to the circus when he was about 7 yrs old and he was fully delighted with clowns; he wore that top part of a clown head around the house for days giggling as he thought back to the silly clowns. The time he came home from a camp where he spent a week with a counselor and other boys in a tepee; he got off the bus wearing the exact same clothes that he had worn when he left (and I later found all the clean clothes still in his suitcase), a fake coon skin cap on his head, and a huge grin on his face. When he was in 5th grade and liked some girl at school so he bought her an imitation rose at the corner 7-11 store and took it to her at school; I don't think she received it so well since I never heard another thing about it.

Several years ago God gave me a Word about Dylan's destiny and I wrote it out on paper and framed it and put it on his wall. The gist in what God showed me at that time was that God created Dylan to be someone who would make friends easily, and that God would use that to cause Dylan to have a wide sphere of influence. That God would use Dylan to impact the people around him, to lead many people into relationship with God through Christ. Also that God would develop Dylan to be a true and faithful friend.

I'm grateful that Dylan is my son. Grateful for his big heart and unashamed ability to shower affection on those around him. Grateful that he is a person who is moved with compassion for the needs of others. Grateful that he knows how to work hard when he chooses. Grateful that he wants to do something with his life and recognizes that money is not everything.

So here's to Dylan on the big 18.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Sometimes even my dog is smarter than me

Our dog's name is Jake. We got him from the pound about 4ys ago, when he was close to 5 months old. He's a black, mostly lab with some pit thrown in, dog. He's a real sweet heart who adds a lot of love and joy to our family.

I've often noticed that it doesn't matter where he is, he always finds it exciting when I call to him to come with me to some new location. Even when I'm just getting him to leave the house and go into the back yard. He perks up and seems all excited about the new things to come. He always assumes some new, good, thing or experience is coming his way.

I was thinking about this today and wondering why. I think it's because he just loves and trusts me so much, he's happy and secure knowing I'll only ever do him good.

I'm a good pet owner, but certainly not a perfect one. Yet God is perfect. But I don't always show positive enthusiasm for changes that God allows in my life. It's like I say I trust Him, BUT...

What about you, do you react to change with positive expectancy?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Waiting on the blessing

Sometimes there are truths that I know, but about which I still need to be reminded.

Such was the case in our pastor's sermon today. He's been preaching through the book of 1 Peter on Sundays, and I especially appreciated today's message. He was looking at 1 Peter 3:13-17 and how God can bring blessing through suffering.

I've mentioned both over on Kingdom Bloggers and here about how "The plan" didn't turn out how it was supposed to with regard to my work. That after being unemployed for close to 18 months, I'm now working an hour commute from home for 58% less than I previously made at the company for which I'd worked for 9 years. In one sense of the word, I see this as suffering.

The pastor used an analogy to which I could relate. He talked about how in a kid's mind his parents are being good to him if they give the kid everything the kid wants, when he wants it. But we all know that parents who do that cause their children to become lazy, entitled, and less appealing human beings. As good parents, we don't always give our child everything he wants, but we do make sure to give him everything he needs. The pastor pointed out that this is how God is with us. That sometimes there are situations in our lives that are not what we want, but may very well be what we need.

He talked about how sometimes God will use some situations that are tough for us, to bring truth to others. Or how He will sometimes use tough times in our lives to develop us into better people. How ultimately God does want our best and how we can continue to wait on Him until we see the blessing in situations. He made a statement about how he chooses to be the kind of person who will wait on God until God either changes the circumstances, or until God changes him.

I want to be that kind of person too.

What about you, do you have any circumstances in your life right now where you're in a tough situation and waiting on God to see what He wants to do through this situation?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Praying Through

Over at Kingdom Bloggers this week we've been sharing something each of us is in the midst of praying through concerning.

I'd be interested to know, weather you'd like to share here or over there, what are you praying for? How long have you been praying about this? What's your experience been ?
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