Monday, March 26, 2012

A promise is a promise

Sometimes my relationship with God is so
upside down. 
Backwards

I feel like the desperate parent that I was when my kids were toddlers. I would at times practically promise them anything to get them to do what I wanted and needed them to do at the time.
I was desperate to have things go smoothly,
orderly,
 and yes...
my way.
I look back now and can't believe the things I would promise them,
if only they would get in line with what I wanted of them.
Candy,
one more movie,
money,
a trip to the store,
I was desperate.
They could smell it. 
They had me right where they wanted me.

Okay, so this is where things get upside down with my Abba Father.
I find myself in a place where I just want things to go smoothly, orderly...my way.
I begin to pray, but instead of just entering into my Father's presence to draw near to Him, I begin to barter, beg, maybe even promise things, just to get the result I am looking for.

Sound familiar?

Oh, you say, that is not what I mean...
I love God
That's why I promise to do this or that
And, if He grants me what I want in return, that is a bonus!


Upside down. That is what this is. It does not work this way.

When I use to promise my kids what ever they wanted in return for doing things my way, it would feel great when they complied....for a while.
Then I learned that I could not keep up with all the promises that I had to make to get what I wanted. I would try, but I just couldn't do it. I had created a situation that was impossible.
I had to start over.
Clean slate.
Retrain them and myself.
I had to listen more and promise less.   

God uses real life to teach me lessons
This is nothing new to God.
He already had this discussion with many before me.

Ecclesiastes 5:1-7 is all about this principle of making promises to God.
It says to...
Guard your steps, be careful
Listen rather than offer foolish sacrifices
Think before you speak
Remember, He is God and you are not
If you make a promise, keep it immediately
It is better not to promise anything than to promise something and not do it.
Broken promises anger God, He will destroy everything you have worked for.
Useless and broken promises mean nothing
Respect God, don't let what you say be empty words.

Promises are important.
Promises to God and promises to others.
I should not make them if I don't plan to keep them,
or if it is beyond my ability to keep.
I can not make deals with The Most Holy God.
And thankfully He always keeps His promises.
No matter what!


With my Lord and those that are in my life I will work at 
listening more and promising less
Thinking before I speak
Remembering my position
Keeping the promises I do make
Respecting my Maker, my God.

My realationship with My Heavenly Father should not be about trying to get what I want through making promises of what I am willing to do.
It should be about desiring to be in His presence and follow His ways because He is God and He loves me. 
Lastly, He keeps His promises
I need to be like Him.
So I should never make a promise, unless I can keep it.

Monday, March 19, 2012

411

Why is it we always have to know?
There is always another question we want answered?
Is it possible to be satisfied with not understanding it all?
I am not sure.

One of my dear friends asked me to write a letter to her daughter who is graduating from high school this year. She said it could be about anything,
as she heads off to college.
Well, I have sent two of my own off this way and so it got me thinking...
what could I say that might cause her to think.
Hmmmmmmm

The first thing that popped into my mind was the fact that when we are young, just starting out into the world, we think and feel invincible. Our curiosity is high and we are eager to learn and try new things.
It is very exciting.
What could possibly go wrong?  
What could possibly go wrong?
 Really!!

"Oh, if I had only known." or "If I knew then what I know now!"
How many of us have said those very words?

Why didn't we listen? Do we all need to learn the hard way?!
I guess so...

Most of us have heard of the first woman
who could not leave well enough alone.
You know who I mean, Eve. 
You can read it yourself in the first book of the Bible, Genesis, Chapter 3.

Now, just like any good story, it all started out so innocently...
just curious...
just inquisitive...
just want a little more information.
What could it hurt?
Information is good right?
The more you know, the easier it is to make an "informed" decision.
Sounds good.

She thought the one that she was talking to was giving her good info. He seemed to know what he was talking about. 
I can just hear her convincing herself,
"I think what he said sounds right...Yes! I want my eyes to be opened!
I want to know and be like God! Why not?
The more I know, the more I understand...
I deserve to be in the know!"

We have the luxury of knowing the end of the story.
We want to yell!
Stop!
Don't do it!
Like when we watch a movie for the umpteenth time and the villain still gets in.

The thing is, we say we might have done something differently.
Or even now, that we can't be tricked like that.
But it happens every day.
Every time we think we need more information than is really beneficial,
just so that we can be all knowing on any given subject.
The enemy is still sneaky that way.
He has not changed.

So, as I think about these young minds, heading into college.
Where professors and upper class-men appear to be all knowing and are able to influence an eager mind.
I go back to Eve.
And I pray that we can all learn from her mistake.
Learn from her willingness to listen to one that "seemed" to know what he was talking about.
Learn from her eagerness to have all the information.

May we always go back to the original source
May we not be swayed by those that "seem" to know what they are talking about.

Know what we know
and understand that sometimes more information is not the answer.      

Monday, March 12, 2012

This is The Way

I really can't remember how long Wes and I have known Bryan and Diane.
A long time.
I can remember when all our kids were little...
diaper bags
strollers
car seats
and all that goes with that.
What I remember thinking then was how organized and confident they were.
How they always had a plan and they worked the plan.

The four of us did ministry together for a while. We studied God's word together and worked on how to better please our Heavenly Father
and serve Him.  

Life continues to move forward and here we are today...
different cities
kids on the edge of independence
all of us seeking to live out our faith in a fallen world.

Wes and I go "home" several times a year and
inevitably we run in the Bryan and Diane at our old church.
With quick hugs and brief moments of catching up on each others lives,
we file each time away until we see them again, 
along with all of our other old friends.

Things never stay the same.
Life happens
hard times come and go
struggle
joy
suffering
fear of the unknown
growing up
growing old
Life

About a year ago life took a hard turn for Bryan and Diane. The direction that they had planned to go was no longer an option. God placed in front of them a new road map. 
Along with the new map came
new terms like cancer
new places to go like chemo appointments 
new things to feel like pain and weakness

The road they are traveling down is not an easy 4 lane freeway,
it is a one way lane.
No U turns, no passing, no speeding,
a road called FAITH. 

The road of FAITH is the only way to travel when we are facing difficult and dark places ahead. It is The Way that our Heavenly Father equips us to bear under the stress and strain of what is ahead. Without it we are doomed for many mishaps along the way.

I believe that it is on the road that we either loosen our grip
 and trust God to navigate,
or we hold on for all its worth to stay in control.
When we fight for control,
we gain things like bitterness, anger, fear, hatred...
When we loosen our grip,
we gain faith, peace that passes understanding, mercy...

Over this past year, Bryan and Diane have lived out loud and loosened their grip as their Heavenly Father has cradled them and cared for them. They readily tell others of who God is in their life and long to see those that do not know Him, see His fingerprints on their road of suffering.
There is no doubt that Bryan and Diane, along with their kids and all of us who know and love them, know where Bryan will be when his journey is done.

To see the face of Jesus is the ultimate reward
for those that are children of God. 

But, for now,God longs to be glorified in Bryan and Diane's life together.

He longs that for us too.

FAITH is the key

We must not grow weary
but keep walking down the road that He has for each of us.
His way is The Way for those that belong to Him.

Thank you Bryan and Diane for the model of humility and faith that you are 
to me and to others.
I pray along with everyone else that knows and loves you that God will continue to care for you and your family.

To God Be the Glory! Great things He has Done!
So loved He the world that He gave us His son!   

footnote: Bryan went home to be with The Lord a few hours after I posted this blog. He is completely healed! Praise God! Please keep the family that he has left behind in your thoughts and prayers. 
If you would like to read more about Bryan's journey:   www.caringbridge.org/visit/bryankephart  

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

CPR

I spent this past Saturday with 6 complete strangers. We all had one purpose for being there, proving our proficiency in CPR.
As a nurse I am required to keep up my skills and be certified by a reputable organization.
I chose The American Red Cross this time around. It is one of my dreams to be a disaster relief volunteer with them one day.

I just love the idea. 

As we studied, discussed and demonstrated the best way to help someone who has passed out, choked or had a cardiac arrest, I was reminded how important it is to not only be prepared, but also know who else is prepared that may also be around to help. We were reminded that doing life saving CPR alone can get exhausting and it is better if there are two to carry the responsibility of trying to save this life.

Okay, so I am sure that some of you know where I am going with this.
But indulge me anyway!

When I find myself ministering to someone, over time it can be exhausting and discouraging. I know, there are times when we "are the only Jesus that they see". But, I need other believers for support, encouragement, information, community, etc... We can be each others life line when we feel like we have been brought to exhaustion when helping someone in need.    

Ecclesiastes 4:12
Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves.

A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

Being the hands and feet of Jesus is what I am called to do.
Isaiah 58 is a wonderful scripture where God's people are called out for seeking Him in the wrong way and He gave them instruction on how to turn things around.
10 -12 says:
And if you give yourself to the hungry,
and satisfy the desire of the afflicted,
then your light will rise in darkness,
and your gloom will become like midday.
And the Lord will continually guide you,
and satisfy your desire in scorched places,
and give strength to your bones;
and you will be like a watered garden,
and like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.
And those from among you will rebuild the ancient ruins;
You will raise up the age old foundations;
and you will be called the repairer of the breach,
The restorer of the streets in which to dwell.

When we step up to help someone who is in crisis, for the right reasons,
with the Holy Spirit as our guide we become
Repairers of the breach! 
Pointing them to Jesus, 
helping them into a right relationship with the God of the universe.

I want to be a repairer, a restorer.
I want to be guided by the Lord continually, to be strengthened and watered.

There are things to do to be part of this group of people. 
I must be prepared to do the work, the study, to understand the cost.

You see, learning to do CPR can only give me the skills to help a physical life.
Learning the things and ways of God gives me the skills to help a soul.    

Spiritual CPR!

Oh, may I be prepared, trained and certified by my Heavenly Father,
so I can be useful to Him and His cause.