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WHAT ARE YOU TEACHING?

THECRYINGBOYBYDRAGO

The child could not have been more than seven or eight: an adorable looking boy, happy and having fun at the football game. He was obviously among family who loved him. I saw him take a big drink of a soda, and something made him laugh. It happens to all of us–young and old! We laugh, and the soda (or crackers, or food) explodes from our mouth with an intensity we can’t control! Which of us can say we’ve never done that? His family instantly laughed hysterically, and, observing the fiasco, I had to smile.

In the flash of a second, however, the man sitting in the next row in front of him–and a little bit lower, as football seats go–got some drink on the back of his head, and down his neck. With the speed of a striking snake he turned, jumped up, grabbed the drink out of the little boy’s hand, and stalked out of the seats, looking for all the world like he wanted to take revenge. It was so very humiliating for the family to be caught in such a situation in public, and so distressing for on-lookers to witness such a spectacle of rage. I wanted to grab the little guy, who instantly rolled himself into a ball and tried to hold big drops of tears back, and hug him until his little spirit was calmed.  It couldn’t have been more than a teaspoon or tablesp00n of soda, but you would have thought the man got soaked. And the man had not even waited to see if it had been an accident.

Scripture poured into my mind as I watched: “Who can bear a broken spirit?” (Prov. 18:14), “A [seasoned Christian] is [should be] above reproach, self-controlled” (1 Tim. 3:2), and “The anger of man does NOT achieve the righteousness of God,” (James 1:20). From the interaction when the man returned after throwing out the drink, I realized he was the boy’s grandfather. My heart was literally breaking, for many reasons: the man had not asked what happened, and whether it was an accident, he didn’t give the little boy time to re-act, and he was providing an example of what a hair-trigger temper is all about, and what it means to display it. Worse, the child was the victim of an adult who should have–by the grandfather’s age–learned self-control. Somehow I got the impression that the child saw anger like this more times than he should have.

The man’s wife tried to talk to him; I could tell she was indicating that his attitude had hurt the child terribly, and that he needed to heal that “wounded” spirit. Okay, so I sound like any problem with a child is the child’s fault, and amends should be made immediately. Not so. But let’s face it, we all laugh at “slap-stick” humor–witness I Love Lucy! Had the grandfather laughed and wiped his neck, it would have created a tighter bond and a happy ending.

I watched the older man turn around and could not believe the words out of his mouth, which I could overhear: “YOU didn’t even say ‘I’m SORRY!'” Good grief, who had had time? The trigger was pulled before the child had his mouth closed! I felt sorry for the man’s wife. But even more, I was appalled at the “Blame Game” the man used. What?! He was blaming the child for HIS own lack of being a godly role model? Again, sometimes it’s a curse (but always a blessing) to know Scripture: “Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us” (Matt 6:14), or “How many times do I forgive my brother…” (Matt. 18:21) and more. Did I see anything Jesus said about them having to immediately–with the next breath–say “I’m sorry!”? No. You forgive immediately because it’s the right thing to do. And this wasn’t even a sin! Imagine that? Wonder how the man treats his enemies.

I reflected the next few hours on the scene I had witnessed. The child was having fun. He did something accidentally that, yes, should have had a “Grandpa, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to do that!” but there had been no time. But he learned that it’s okay for a person who says he loves Jesus to instantly have a rage attack against a child; he learned it’s okay to do it in public; that it’s okay to blame the other person–because, after all, for goodness sake, they caused your rage. So the Bible must be wrong–anger is okay, because it was his grandpa; anger is okay but what if I make God mad? What will He do?

What a lesson in love. Is it any wonder the world calls us hypocrites? We talk the talk, but the instant our body or feelings get tramped on, we walk a walk Satan is proud of. I pray for this little boy, that he comes to realize anger is a choice that people make when they have no self-control, when they set themselves up with pride as if they themselves never make mistakes, so it’s okay to throw a stone. Especially at a little child. “Whoever offends one of these is [in danger of hell-fire]” (Matt. 18:6). I pray this little boy does not think God is like his grandfather, and think that God re-acts in anger when he has not meant to offend.

There’s not enough fun in life on the good days, let alone on the bad days. A child laughing in fun is a beautiful thing–and a merry heart does good like medicine (Prov. 17:22). Maybe that’s why so many of our children are on medicines in this age, you think?

 

 

The painting is by Drago Ivanisevic, copyrighted, and not able to be re-copied or painted. If you have questions, please contact me.

 

LOVE IS A CHOICE…

TOWERS2The news came suddenly: mothers started running to the nursery at church, grabbing their little ones, fear full-blown on their faces. It was a Tuesday morning in September, and what we were hearing was bits and pieces–something about an attack in New York. We were in central Virginia, many hours away from NY. One woman was trying to hold herself together, for her husband had a meeting that morning in NYC. She was desperately trying to reach him. My daughter and I left the nursery once the babies were all picked up and headed for a television in the church, where the news had interrupted regular programming. Everyone was shocked speechless, some crying, some stunned. Over the next hours I can so well remember my feeling: how can anyone hate America this much?

It is said that those of us who are old enough to remember when John Kennedy was shot, know exactly where we were when the news came, and it’s true. It’s also true we remember where we were when we first heard of the attack on the Twin Towers. These moments in our past will never fade.

Recently, I was reading a news article on a well-known American family who were blind-sided by a media attack, after news that they were not perfect was made to look like something the whole family should be executed for. I read some of the tweets under the article–something I never do. As I read the venom that poured out of people’s computers, I was once again struck by the hatred that was spewing forth. Stunned and sickened, I considered the truth that, had a Christian written those verbal attacks on a  family of another religious persuasion, it probably would have been labeled a “hate crime,” and they would have been interrogated by the police. Such is our culture today. The hatred is becoming greater and greater.

Now we are watching Lincoln’s prophecy come to pass: America will never be destroyed by outside forces; when it falls, it will fall from decay within. How true his words are becoming! Having been raised in the mid 1900’s, I have seen the black/white racism from A to Z. Well, maybe not yet Z. It’s still heading there.

I was one of the fortunate ones growing up: my mom, a naive West Virginia “hillbilly,” never saw color, only character. She raised me to look at the person, not the color of their skin or the slant of their eyes. I remember in a Sunday night class in the early ’60’s making the remark, “I’d rather my daughter marry a Christian black man who worships the ground she walks on than a white man who beats and abuses her!” I can still remember the shock and disbelief on the faces of those die-hard Southern folks who sat in the chairs. Later, I was outspoken at Dr. Martin Luther King’s tactics, and recall saying, “I would do exactly what he’s doing if I thought my children and grandchildren were going to be treated the way most whites treat blacks.” I wasn’t popular for saying so.

Today we see the hate again becoming an issue between whites and blacks. Haven’t we gotten past this? Have we learned nothing from history? Strip away the skin and what do you have? God said He looks on the heart, not on the outward appearance. That, I have always believed, is why He chose a Jewish mother–so that He was neither white nor black, but of Middle-Eastern appearance. One pastor whom I love once said to me, “A lot of ‘Christians’ are going to be surprised when they see the human color of Jesus!” How true. What we need to be asking is, who is the one who is stirring up this hatred? There is someone who is at the bottom of all of it, I’m convinced.

There’s no excuse for hatred. It cannot be the heart condition of anyone who calls themselves Christian. If you hate someone because of the color of their skin, you are condemning someone made in the image of God. How sad. Sad that we treat brothers and sisters in the Lord as if they are less than we are. Sad that people of the world, whose morals equal that of Sodom & Gomorrah, condemn and judge as if they should be executed, those who are Christians but commit a sin, repent and seek healing. Hatred is a choice, just as love is a choice. As Jesus said, “If you don’t love your brother, whom you have seen, how can you love God, who you haven’t seen?”

Sin is a fact of life: Jesus tells us through John that if we say we have no sin, we lie and the truth (Jesus) is not in us. Once we accept that fact (that we have sin), we are accountable to God as to what we are going to do with it. Are we going to continue living with it, enjoy it, and judge others, or are we going to recognize our right to eternity in heaven depends on our asking forgiveness for what we do that is wrong, asking Jesus to come into our lives and save us–not that we will never sin again, but that we will have someone in our lives who has paid the debt of our sin–and run to Him when we sin again. That’s the difference between love and hate. Hate continues to hate. Love makes a choice to ask for forgiveness when sin rears its ugly head, be cleansed, and continue living with a happy heart, knowing He has forgiven again! That’s what the world does not understand, because their eyes are blind to God. That would scare me to death!

If I realized that the God who will one day be my Judge, whom I will stand before, as someone who has rejected the offer of salvation, if I KNEW that He had crossed me off His list, wiped me out of His Book of Life–it would scare me so badly I would run to Him, gasping for mercy.

Hell is not going to be a party. But stomping on the mercy, grace, and love of Jesus–when it was still a possibility in your life–is a choice only you can make. Before it’s too late.

 

IMPATIENCE: A LESSON IN JUDGING!

dogwoodimpatienceWaking up, stretching, yawning… all of a sudden you ask yourself, “Where am I?!!” Then it all comes flooding back: the telephone call, the quick packing, the trip, and you’re waking in a motel room. You glance outside and see flowers. Everything looks beautiful. But something is missing. What is it? Then reality hits you: someone you loved has left the earth. You will leave here in a couple of days, and go back home, with only memories.

We’ve all gone through a similar experience, haven’t we? Perhaps not that, but close. I recall coming out of a Belk store many years ago (when my mind was sharp!!), and with all the Belk stores laid out the same, for a moment I had a true panic thought, ” What city am I in?!” Too much traveling, too much change, too quickly.

And so today I “wake up,” not having been asleep, but the fog from the concussion is leaving and I am able to function close to normal. Perhaps not at 100%, but enough that this page is now being written–the outcome of weeks when the mere thought was ‘too much.’ Been there? Overwhelmed by a thought of taking on a task? Yeah, me, too.

S0, congratulations! You are now back on track, you say. Who knows? Is there really a track? I know God showed me a lesson this morning, which is the first in weeks. Not that He hasn’t been there, just that I’ve been too far down to care. Does that shock you? Yes, Christians get there. Just like non-believers. Just like you, maybe.

And so God showed me a piece of my heart this morning: life has changed this year! Do you know there’s a “syndrome” for everything?  Look up RHS–it’s a syndrome. I’m a victim. After a lifetime of being at home, raising kids, mowing yards, keeping the house clean, blah, blah, blah, my husband retired. (Retired Husband Syndrome). It should be RSS, because it can/is the same for husbands who have worked from home and then the wife retires. So far I have yet to meet someone who cannot relate, man or woman, when this happens. Love has nothing to do with it. Space has everything to do with it.

Suddenly, there’s someone in your space. You’ve been alone–or with kids–and were used to noises, and identified them mentally, and categorized them. Now it’s a new set of noises. There’s no “quiet time.” He says, “But I go to McDonald’s every morning for breakfast!” Sometimes he says he goes so he can have bacon, other times he says it’s to give me time when I’m by myself. Either way it’s the same, life is interrupted. Picky, picky, picky, you’re thinking. Your time will come. Believe me.

I notice so many changes, being with him constantly. He’s retired… that means no schedule, very few commitments, very few real responsibilities except of his own making. Yet his driving is beginning to create ulcers in my stomach. If someone is in front of him at the drive-thru window, move quickly. If the person at the red light doesn’t go, he fumes. Turn right on red, for crying out loud, it’s the rule in almost all states! I’d rather we took two cars.

I need to go to the post office; when? Who cares? Well, he just wants some idea. I don’t care, as long as it’s before 6 o’clock! Want to go to the gym? Sure? When? Who cares, you’re retired! No, Mr. Impatience wants a time. Why? I’m the one working!

He has taken over the grass cutting, which is good, since I began a hobby from home that has become a monster that is eating me alive. I want out. I dream of running away, but did it once and it created billions of problems I never want to see again. I dream of getting a job outside the home, but couldn’t make the pay I need. I just want out of my present dilemma and there are several ways it can happen. And so every day I beg God, please, let me out! I almost got out by death (that should have showed me right there He’s not ready for me), I’ll take terminal illness (would I really?), just GET ME OUT. And He hasn’t. Not yet. So my impatience grows and has become a tangible, breathing, living force in my life, driving down the joy, peace, and all that. All because I’ve gotten myself in a pickle I am helpless to get out of.

As I was pouring my first mug of coffee this morning, I suddenly saw my constant beseeching God to do something, and please, do it now, as the same type impatience my husband displays behind the wheel of the car. Other drivers are out of his control. My work is out of my control. He wants them to move NOW. I want God to fix my problem NOW. Don’t you hate it when God shows you your own heart? I do.

What to do? Everything. Confess that the things that are driving me up a wall with my husband are things that are in my own heart toward God. Realize my husband spent his whole life working for the money to let me stay home and raise kids–now he deserves his time. Trust God to move in a way that I will recognize is best when it happens. Trust Him that He has my back, and will give me strength. Trust Him that if He can SPEAK words–or THINK them–the world comes into being or a person is healed, then He can change my circumstances if it’s the best thing for me at this time. Trust—don’t fear. Perfect love casts out fear (I John 4:18), and FEAR IS TORMENT. Yikes, do we all know that?

Need encouragement? Go to http://www.trbc.org, and listen to the sermon for Sunday, April 19. Besides being a blessing on trust, you’ll hear Charles Billingsley sing “A Midnight Cry,” and yes, we’ll all be going home. Praise God–no more of this world’s garbage and impatience.

Father, You who loves me with a love I don’t understand, forgive my impatience as I beg You to lighten my load; give me strength for the race that is before me. Thank You for showing me that my impatience is no different than that of my husband, and no sin is greater than another–they’re all wrong in Your sight. Help me remember these lessons, Lord. And thank You for the resurrection power You’ve made available to all of us. Amen

 

Photo © Steve Sharp | Dreamstime Stock Photos

EXAMS, TESTS & PRAYER!

dreamstimebooks

The books were right there, laying on top of the piano where I had left them the afternoon before when I arrived home from school.  I distinctly remembered  having every intention of studying, but then I pulled out the piano bench to learn “The Peer Gynt Suite” by Edvard Grieg! Where had my mind been?? SAT’s would start today! Of all evenings to have gotten a little extra cramming in, last night was the one! Trig was killing me, and physics was right behind it! Sigh. Why do some people have it so easy, while others have to work so hard for a C? Not fair! Picking the books by up, I headed out the door, already feeling the noose around my neck.

The classroom wasn’t crowded, so the teacher separated us in order to cut down on the ability to cheat. There were no cell phones in those days, and calculators or open books were not allowed in the room. Also, this teacher was a hawk: he didn’t miss an eyeball drifting sideways. I looked down at the paper, and the first problem might have been in Greek. Against the rules of the test (do each one in order), I went to the next–wow! Easy! So I zipped through the pages answering the ones I could, then going back to the ones that needed more brain time. Meanwhile, the brainy students were going one by one.

A month later the trigonometry teacher stepped into the English class and asked for attention. He gave the results of those who had scored highest in all areas. Then he stopped. “In Math, although I have no idea how she did it, considering she is failing trig, Sandy Day scored the highest.” Thank you, Mr. Whatever (his name is erased from my memory bank.) (Intentionally, probably).  I knew right then I had figured out how to take tests: go quickly through the ones you know, then go back to the harder questions. Granted, there are probably rules that prohibit doing this now in the technological age, but at that time it worked well.

No one has to be a Rocket Scientist to know that life is full of tests. Only the naive think that when they get out of school, tests will be over! The test for your driver’s license, college classes, balancing checkbooks, having quarterly reviews at work, making the outgo and the income equal out–at least in some respects,–all of those and millions more are tests. It’s definitely not exaggerating to say that each day we have tests in some form or the other. If you have kids, you have testing. If you are married, you have testing.

Recently, I found a different test–one laid out in Scripture put there by the hand of God. I wasn’t looking for it, but this, still able to be called the being the beginning of a new year, is a good time to do a self-examination, or test. I was reading Psalm 15, and was immediately impacted by the question the psalmist asked in prayer: “God, who may dwell with You in Your holy place?” (My paraphrase). And then he gets his answer: anyone who lives a blameless life (wow, can anyone do that?); who walks in righteousness; who refuses to engage in conversation that is slandering to another person; who does not listen to gossip; who does not harm his neighbor; who speaks out against sin; who criticizes those who are committing the sin (that doesn’t go down well in this age of “tolerance,” does it?); who commends (and encourages) those who are faithfully following the Lord; who keeps a promise even if it ruins him; who does not extract the highest interest rate he can get by with, thereby putting a burden too heavy to bear on those he lends money to; who refuses to testify against an innocent person even if he is bribed heavily to do so—this man will stand firm forever. Whoa!! Those are the goals of someone who wants to serve God with his entire life. This obviously was not a test where one could say, “That one is easy, that one I’ll come back to, that one I’ll never figure out,” etc.!

It is easy to see that those are the standards of someone who must have a close and wonderful relationship with the Creator God! It is, as Paul writes in the book of Romans, the reason that the commandments point us to Jesus. Just looking at that list, and then seeing where you “test” out against each one of those attributes, tempts us to throw up our hands and quit trying. That’s why we need a Savior. If there were a chain with thick heavy links holding you to God, and each link was one of the commandments, or one of those characteristics in Psalm 15, how many would it take to break chain holding you to God? Only one. Someone had to pay the price for us, or no-one would be dwelling with God in that holy place!

Hallelujah, there was Someone who was able to pay that price, live up to the standard God had set, and then paid the debt that we could never pay. Yes, He lets us sin, and no, He doesn’t like it when we do. But if your child disobeys, and then is truly repentant, you are ready to forgive. So is God. Let’s try for a “Well done, good and faithful servant,” when we stand before Him, having passed His test!

O God, how we can relate to the psalmist as he cried out, “Who can abide with You?!” We see our failings–and I confess, Lord, that I am not always sorry the moment I fail You–and feel we can never be good enough.  Then I realize how badly I need Your grace, and Your forgiveness. Help me–and others–draw near to You, so that You will draw near to us. Thank You for Your grace, Lord God, and for Jesus Christ. Amen

 

© Simon Lawrence | Dreamstime Stock Photos

LOOKING BACK, LOOKING AHEAD

HUNTING

The woods were so frightening! Was that a giant black widow in the web above my head? Maybe a bear was behind the tree, or even a skunk. The loaded gun felt weird tucked under my right arm and balanced with my left hand, and knowing it was ready to shoot caused me fear also. I had always heard that Indians could walk so softly that no one could tell they were in the woods, so I tried my best to make no sound. Behind me, in single file, my grandpa and grandma were also walking quietly. My grandpa must love me a lot, I reasoned, to take me hunting for the first time in my life, and let me lead the way! If I got off the trail at all, he would whisper a quiet encouragement to guide me left or right, back to the trail. I didn’t have to look back to know he was there; for one thing, he was my Grandpa and would never leave me alone in this fearsome place! For another, his quiet words of command to stay on the path, though like a gentle whisper, were evidence that he was there. I didn’t know which was greater, my fear, my excitement, or my pride.

That happened more years ago that most anyone who reads this can conceive, yet I can still feel that experience as though it happened yesterday. I was maybe eight years old, but he gave me such a gift that day as he did what no one else had ever done: he showed he trusted me to handle a gun, lead our way, and listen for his voice.

Now, so many decades later, it is the end of another year and a time to look back at this past twelve months. Did you walk an unknown path, knowing your heavenly Father was behind you, never leaving you, or did you doubt His faithfulness? His still, small voice is a command to our heart if we are about to get off the path; did you listen for it? Sometimes it is a red flag of warning if you don’t want to listen–it probably means you want to do you own thing! Did you act in a manner that He found faithful to His wishes? If so, you have done well.

Some days I feel like that eight-year-old, ready to take on the world. Other days, I feel a hundred and twenty, dreading to put one foot in front of the other! But one thing I know, every day has something to teach me. There is not a day that goes by that I do not discover something new. And because of that, I can look forward to 2015 knowing that I still have so much to learn: so much about Jesus, so much about  myself, and so much about what my purpose is in living. He has plans and a purpose for me, Jeremiah wrote, and I find it only by being in the center of His will.

You may be thinking, not me. Nope, not after the mistakes I’ve made. Not after the way I messed up last year. Not after the sins I committed, when I flagrantly yelled at Him, “Let me do this on my own!” Yet Isaiah 57:15 tells us, “For thus says the High and Lofty One Who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: ‘I dwell in the high and holy place, with him who has a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.'” There is such hope for the backslider! All you need is a humble spirit of sorrow for what you did when you got off the right path, confess it to Him (1 John 1:9), and you are forgiven! You can start 2015 out with a clean record! How much better can it get?

Do  you have goals for 2015? It seems only once in a great while that a “New Year’s Resolution” is actually kept for the year. But a goal, ah–that’s different. That’s a commitment to stay on the path that God has for you, so that you can be more like Him. What does that look like, to be like Him? Do you actually hunger and thirst to be righteous? Do you want to let others go before you? Do you mind if someone gets credit for  what you’ve done? Do you let someone else have the last word? Do you love others more than you love yourself? Yikes. That stabs. Do you keep the church’s sticker off your back windshield so that if you cut someone off in traffic, they won’t know which church you attend? My license plate says “EL EWE.” LU. I know that no matter how I drive, someone is going to recognize that I am associated in some manner with a certain university and church, and that God’s reality in my life shows in my driving. Ouch. It causes me to drive better, I will say that!

So what about 2015? Can we make some commitments that we will handle this year better than 2014? That we won’t waste as much money, perhaps eat healthier to keep our temple in better condition, that we’ll treat our family as we treat our boss, etc? We could fill up a dozen pages. But let’s go back to a few posts to the “Do Not Fear” and pull out the two greatest commandments: Love the Lord with all that we are, and love our neighbor as much as we love ourselves. We can reduce our huge list to two things. And we can trust Him to be behind us every step of the way, whispering if we start to get off track, and loving us. What a God to walk with in the next year!

Holy Father, how we fail You, but how faithful You remain! Your word tells us that even when we are unfaithful, You stay faithful to us. You are willing to save anyone who calls on You, but how can they call unless they hear? And how will they hear unless we tell them? Give us boldness and courage to know You have our back, have ordained our path, and are accompanying us ever step. We love You, Lord. Thank You for the cross. Amen

THE BLAME GAME!

BLAMEGRAM3

“I didn’t do it!” my child exclaimed when I called his name! Good grief, all I did was ‘holler’ for him! Parental thought: he has a guilty conscience… so I call again (against all rules of good parenting), “Come here!” I needed to source the reason for the comment. He stood in front of me, obviously wishing for a hole to open up. “What did you do?” “Nothing. Rachel did it.”  Hmmm, interesting. A counselor could make the most of this situation, but contrary to a child’s opinion, mommy’s do not come with eyes in the back of their heads, nor the wisdom of Solomon. Ten minutes later I had my answer: he had broken a piece of Depression Glass, hidden it in a drawer, and added lying to the mix.

Having just kept a young, 7 year old grandson, there was no one for him to blame when things went off course. In fact, when I picked him up from school the first day of my testing period (I would have him the whole week… only grandmas can relate here), he hugged me, got in the car, and someone flipped the switch to “on.” I couldn’t find the “off” button the rest of the week. Women obviously are not the only ones who need to get 35,000 words spoken in one day: he managed in the first evening. I figured it was a result of being the next to youngest in a family of five children, and he was suffering from “undelivered speech.”  As I was saying, he began our interaction with, “Grammy, I accidentally made Yellow today.” (Purple is best, then Green, Yellow needs work, Orange is bordering on a big problem, and Red is “call parents.”). How do you accidentally make Yellow? By the fault being someone else’s, of course. (By the way, between sermons, illustrations and reinforcing good behavior, he made green the second day and purple the next. WooHoo! Grandma’s have become wiser with age.) When he spoke, my mind went back to the forty billion times I had heard, “It’s her (his) fault” from his mom and his uncle–his mom’s brother, the breaker of the Depression Glass. The Blame Game. The truth is, the fruit falls pretty much straight down to the bottom of the tree, doesn’t it? I seem to remember saying “I didn’t do it” to my mom, and I had no one else to blame.

Lying about our guilt is pretty easy, isn’t it? I would love to see in your mind the thought that went circling through as to what you last did that you had to make an excuse for? (“I would have fixed the sink, but you wanted me to mow the yard..,” “I would have mowed the yard, but you wanted me to run to WalMart.” Our ways are a lot more subtle than saying “If you hadn’t told me you wanted me to go to WalMart, I would have had time to mow,” knowing that will 1) push a button, 2) start a “discussion” we don’t want, or…3-10,000) other reasons.

It’s easy to see why: we don’t want to accept responsibility for our actions. What is sickening is that we play the same game with our Heavenly Father! (“I would have gone to church this morning, but God, You know I had to work late, and I was so exhausted I just couldn’t get out of bed in time.”) One of my sons works graveyard, comes home on Sunday morning at 7, and by 8:15 is ready to leave for the early service. I’m so thankful he doesn’t say, “I’ve just gotten off work, Lord–You wouldn’t expect me to go to church, would You?”

If it makes you feel better–which it shouldn’t–Adam was the first to play this game, and he had the impertinence to say it right to the face of the Lord God! Genesis 3 relates the story of Adam as God calls him after he had eaten of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, then asks Adam if he ate of it. “The woman You gave me persuaded me to eat of it!” he excused himself. When Eve was asked, she answered, “The serpent deceived me, so I ate of it!” And so it started… The Blame Game.

When will we grow up enough to learn to admit our failures? Failure is going to happen–but admitting it to God and moving on is growth. Being upfront about our responsibility enables us to accept that we’re not perfect, we have times when we don’t do what we should, and we should not hesitate to admit it. (“Honey, I didn’t mow the yard because I took too long washing my car. I’m sorry. Will you forgive me?”) Life isn’t perfect, and we aren’t either! I love the verse that tells us that “God remembers our frame, that we are but dust!” I think there’s a whole person in my house if I could just get him/her all together…

Look for ways today that give you the opportunity to blame someone else and then see if you’re big enough to take responsibility! Adults have the Blame Game perfected–we’ve had time to practice since we were kids!

Father, please help us, even in our more mature years, to learn to take the responsibility we should when we have not acted in a responsible manner. Help us to acknowledge our guilt, and then put things behind us. Most of all, help us to love the one who has blamed us for having lost out on something in life they feel they deserved; and if we know someone has something against us, give us the courage to go to them and make it right. Amen

 

DROUGHT… A BIG DEAL!

DROUGHT

When is the last time you took a drive through some of the states, and began to notice how many areas have succumbed to the lack of rain? In Florida, it was not unusual to see docks standing at the back of someone’s yard, with the canal or lake many feet away from the bottoms of the pilings, no longer able to be used by their owners. The water used to be almost to the top of the dock. This isn’t a recent occurrence, but has been gradually happening over a period of many years.

When is the last time you had a drought in your life? A time when you didn’t feel as though you were connecting with God, and no matter what you did, you couldn’t feel His presence? Feeling as though your “prayers hit the ceiling”?

Have you taken time to really let His word wash over you, and made the choice to stand on His promises? He tells you that He will never forsake you, nor leave you! So–if you feel like He has, which one of you is wrong? The bottom line becomes, can you believe Him or not? If you can’t, you probably need some serious time of reflection, of self-examination, to see what is wrong. The Bible says that your iniquity can separate you from God–not that He withdraws from you, but you have erected a barrier between you and Him, a barrier of sin, and its consequences are that you will no longer “feel” Him there.

If you can believe Him, then make that choice to do so. It’s been an arid week for me–you can always tell, because there may be days when I will write even twice–and then a gap comes! Is it a drought of God’s work in my life? Not usually, but sometimes the busy-ness of daily activities leaves one’s mind so wrapped up in mundane priorities that the day can go by and nothing has been done for His kingdom. Time to shift priorities, wouldn’t you say? Isaiah 58:11 tells us “The Lord will guide you continually, And satisfy your soul in drought, And strengthen your bones; You shall be like a watered garden, And like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.” That’s a promise!

Are you aware that the Bible tells us that in the last days–and by the way, the last days of America can be very different from the last days when Christ returns!–there will be a drought of the Word of God? Amos 8:11 says, ““Behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord God, “That I will send a famine on the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord.” That drought will be so severe that God’s word will be hard to find. It better be in our memories now!

That is the other drought we can see as we go across America. A drought of moral values (have you see the television shows that have come out? God forbid that Christians should watch tv porn), of filled churches, or caring Christians–but everywhere a lack of standing up for what is right. We are losing our country due to a drought of holy living.

Like the movie “Courageous,” let us stand up and be counted, not fearing to be different from the world, not fearing rejection, not ashamed of God, but putting ourselves on the front line–standing in the gap for the souls of those going to hell because no one asked God to save them. And while we’re praying, let’s ask God for blessings to rain down, and relieve the drought in our lives!

Father, we can see drought even as we watch the faces of those who are entering the church doors on Sunday: their faces do not reflect peace, but inner struggles, and their lives are full of conflict. Please let us feel Your comfort as we draw near to You by choice! Amen