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Faith Familiarity Fasting God's Word Ignorance Kingdom New Year Fast Perspective Rejection

However

My daughter has an amazing imagination; she’s easily moved by things she sees and hears. I have to be watchful about what books, TV shows, and media she is exposed to as she will often have dreams (good and bad) about what she’s read or watched. More times than I can remember, she has come to my room in the middle of the night and cuddled next to me because of a bad dream she has had.

My mother-in-law rocked all of her grandchildren to sleep, and is now rocking all of her great-grandchildren so far, by singing the song, “Be Careful Little Eyes.” There’s more truth to that little song that we need to cling to than most of us understand. There are only 2 doors of entry into anyone’s thoughts and that is through what is seen and heard.

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Rocking chairs are the best places to fall asleep.

Unfortunately we tend to desensitize ourselves throughout our lifetimes by allowing ourselves to be exposed to things that do little to build us or help us grow. Indeed, we need to be informed of what is going on in the world – but how much do we need to listen to in order to be informed?

Ephesians 1:15b-20 NLT “…I pray for you constantly, asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God. I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance. I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms.”

It would seem that what we need to know is not the wisdom of this world but rather God’s wisdom that we find in knowing Him. We know God more when we spend more time with Him. I have a suspicion that many of us know more about politics, health trends, celebrities, and fashion than we know about our Savior.

The person that I know best in this world is the one I spend the most time with: my husband. I’ve worked side-by-side with him nearly all of our married lives. It’s not always been easy but the more we work together, the better we get to know one another, and the better our working relationship becomes. Sure we’ve had to learn to give and take; sometimes I give more, sometimes he gives more but in the end we get things done.

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Climbing Mount Heha in Burundi with our daughter Andreya.

The relationship we have with God is much the same – the more time we spend with Him, the better we get to know Him. You may think I’m only referring to time spent reading His Word and praying, and yes that is an extremely important part of getting to know Him, but I’m also referring to spending time with Him in other ways. We can be with God when we spend time with other believers, because when 2 or 3 of us gather, He is with us (see Matt. 18:20). We also can spend time with God in worship, alone or with others (see Ps. 22:3). We simply need to be a bit more aware of what we are doing in order for us to connect with Him wherever we are – because He is always with us (see Ps. 139:7).

I dare go further and say that we will filter what we hear God saying to us through a filter of what we know better: Him or this world.

Luke 8:18 AMP “So be careful how you listen; for whoever has a teachable heart, to him more undersanding will be given; and whoever does not have a longing for truth, even what he thinks he has will be taken away.”

Perhaps the most important quality we can possess is being teachable; having the ability to absorb truths that God is trying to communicate to us. We can’t take His truths in, however, if we are better acquainted with the world’s system than we are with God’s because we will naturally reject things He is saying because they “don’t make sense.”

God’s way of doing things run cross-grain to this world; He won’t be influenced in any way by popular opinion or reason.

Luke 8:40-56 gives the account of Jesus’ healing of not only a woman who had a long-standing hemorrhage, but also of Jairus’ daughter who died before Jesus could get to her side. In verses 51-53, Jesus enters Jairus’ house and found a crowd of mourners that had gathered “lamenting for her.” Jesus told them to stop crying as the girl was only asleep and He was summarily mocked – because everyone knew the girl was dead, what more could be done?

What follows the laughter of the crowd can easily be missed as it is only 1 short phrase in length: vs 54, “He, however.” Not minding the crowd, Jesus moved ahead and moved against common sense: the girl was dead. Indeed, she was dead, but that did not matter because “He, however” had other plans.

This year and beyond I want to live in “however” and I can only live in “however” when I know Him better than I know my natural circumstances. Getting closer to Him will help me walk by the crowds into “however.”

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O Be Careful Little Eyes

Oh, be careful little eyes, what you see.
Oh, be careful little eyes, what you see.
There’s a Father up above, looking down in love,
So be careful little eyes, what you see.

Be careful little ears what you hear
Oh, be careful little ears, what you hear.
There’s a Father up above, looking down in Love,
So be careful little ears, what you hear.

Be careful little mouth what you say
Oh, be careful little mouth, what you say.
There’s a Father up above, looking down in tender love,
So be careful little mouth, what you say.

Be careful little hands, what you touch
Oh, be careful little hands, what you touch.
There’s a Father up above, looking down in tender love,
So be careful little hands, what you touch.

Be careful little feet, where you go
Oh, be careful little feet, what you go.
There’s a Father up above, looking down in tender love,
So be careful little feet, what you go.

Author: Unknown

Categories
Choices Church planting Comfort Courage Destiny Familiarity Family Missions

Abnormally Normal

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“If you do not hope, you do not find out what is beyond your hopes.”                           Clement of Alexandria

I’ve hoped and dreamed and trusted for so many years for so many things – some have come to pass and some haven’t. Why have some come to pass and others haven’t? I don’t think I’m able to grasp the “why” of each circumstance, but I do know that I somehow still find in myself the grip of my going on with my dreaming, hoping, and trusting.

What if what I’ve dreamed of, hoped for, and trusted is on the way is just beyond this moment I’m in?

What is the alternative to dreaming, hoping and trusting?

I’ve heard it said that if you shoot for the moon, you might hit the stars. If you shoot for nothing, that is exactly what you will get. I think the chance of hitting a few stars is more appealing to me than achieving nothing at all!

As if our own internal struggles weren’t enough to tempt us to discouragement, there are those who have taken up the cause to help us “think things through logically.” Or to be “wise” in the way we approach things. Indeed, we are to live in wisdom, but not the wisdom that this world is accustomed to:

1 Corinthians 1:20,21, CEB “Where are the wise? Where are the legal experts? Where are today’s debaters? Hasn’t God made the wisdom of the world foolish? In God’s wisdom, He determined that the world wouldn’t come to know him through its wisdom. Instead, God was pleased to save those who believe through the foolishness of preaching.”

Wisdom that comes from God will always run cross-grain to that what this world considers to be wise. Certainly my life doesn’t appear to have been lived wisely as far as this world’s wisdom is concerned. First of all, I didn’t get a degree that would promise me a lucrative career; imagine spending years studying Theology and Christian Social Ministry. It doesn’t bring in much money even though I earned my Master’s Degree – nevertheless I loved every bit of my studies. A part of me wishes I could go on further but time, location, and cost give me reason to pause!

Where I’m located (Burundi) also presents a problem as far as the wisdom of this world is concerned. I’m far from family, friends, and my home culture – I can’t tell you how painful it is to be far from our families but The Name is worth the living and giving of all of our lives (see Acts 5:41, that’s a blog for another day). To fit in, I’ve had to learn languages, cultural cues that make no sense to me, and face misunderstanding on every side. Why choose to be far away? Why choose such a road? How will you afford retirement (we have saved regularly but it’s far from what is projected that we would need later on in life, missions work is not lucrative)? How will you pay for all the things you say you’re going to do?

There are no easy answers to any of those questions as far as “normal” people are concerned and it’s painfully obvious that I’m not a normal person and I didn’t marry a normal person either. We are a terrific misfit couple and are comfortable in our “abnormal” normal (for us) life. This doesn’t mean we don’t struggle or feel anything, it simply means that the One Who pulls us to do what we do, hope for what we hope for, dream as we do, and trust when everything says “give up” is far more powerful than any opposition and hardship we face.

Who will step in and resuce me when things go upside down? Not anyone who has tried to convince me to do something more “reasonable” with my life – for they would find something unfortunate to say even if I lived “safely” according to what the world thinks is wise. The only One Who has the power to save, and has saved me each and every time I’ve needed it, stands by my side keeping watch over me and mine.

Psalm 11:1,4 LB “How dare you tell me, ‘Flee to the mountains for safety,’ when I am trusting in the Lord?…But the Lord is still in His holy temple; He still rules from heaven…”

He still rules and that is more than enough for me.

 

 

Categories
Contempt Faith Familiarity Fasting Judgment

Day 16 – Best Friends

Who is your best friend? I would say my husband Jamie is my best friend. We’ve been married 33 years this coming July. We’ve been together so long that I wonder if he can read my mind sometimes, and vice-versa. We finish one another’s sentences and generally have the same opinion about life in general; there are a few exceptions that I won’t list that aren’t really important except when I bring them up (haha).

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Best friends since 1984.

My husband knows he has an open door into my life – he is more familiar with me than with anyone else. Ours is the kind of relationship that I wanted in marriage and I’m so thankful God fulfilled that need I had. With such friendship and familiarity between us, there is something that we both need to guard our hearts from; and that is contempt (disdain, disapproval, or scorn). It’s easy, when you know someone as well as we know one another, to view their opinions, ideas, and ways of doing things with contempt since you know not only their good points but are aware of their frailties as well.

Familiarity can be a positive mark in a relationship. I’m not fearful to talk to my husband about anything; I know that he has my best interests at heart. I’m also so familiar with him that I know when I can talk with him. For example, when he is studying on Friday, preparing his preaching for the weekend, I know that it’s not a good time to have a deep discussion about anything. If my attitude towards him shifted to the negative and I began to despise him for his way of doing things, then, that familiarity I have with him has brought a harvest of contempt. As my husband, as my fellow believer, I need to honor the person God has made him to be and allow room for him to be himself just as he honors me as his wife and fellow believer.

In the same way we need to guard ourselves in our relationships with our spouses and friends, as Christians, we have to be very careful not to allow our relationship with the Lord to become contemptuous because we have become so accustomed to His love and grace.

1 Corinthians 11:23-26 MSG Let me go over with you again exactly what goes on in the Lord’s Supper and why it is so centrally important. I received my instructions from the Master himself and passed them on to you. The Master, Jesus, on the night of his betrayal, took bread. Having given thanks, he broke it and said, ‘This is my body, broken for you. Do this to remember me.’ After supper, he did the same thing with the cup: ‘This cup is my blood, my new covenant with you. Each time you drink this cup, remember me.’ What you must solemnly realize is that every time you eat this bread and every time you drink this cup, you reenact in your words and actions the death of the Master. You will be drawn back to this meal again and again until the Master returns. You must never let familiarity breed contempt.”

If we don’t watch ourselves in our relationship with the Lord, we could easily fall into the same trap as the Corinthians did with the Lord’s Supper (Communion). Things had taken a drastic downward turn in the Corinthian church; they had turned the Lord’s Supper, and church life in general, into a competition. Criticism and divisiveness filled the air and the Apostle Paul felt it necessary to step in and bring correction.

Familiarity – Honor = Contempt

Jesus faced the same issue as He attempted to minister in His home town:

Mark 6:3 NLT “Then they scoffed, ‘He’s just a carpenter…’ They were deeply offended and refused to believe in Him.”

The people in Jesus’ hometown despised His ministry because they were familiar with Him. They knew his mother and father, they knew He hadn’t studied the law or attended any prestigious center for training on religious affairs. The miracles they had heard of Him performing weren’t enough to change their minds about Him – they were deeply offended.

Why is it when God uses someone we know, a friend or family member, we immediately view him or her with skepticism? Simply because we know where someone comes from doesn’t preclude them from God using them. Perhaps we wonder, secretly or even unconsciously, why is God using them instead of us for our character and giftings are so much better than theirs. When we allow contempt to rule in our hearts to the point that we judge others and the work God is trying to do through them, we stand on shaky ground.

Mark 6:6 NLT “And He was amazed at their unbelief.”

When contempt takes hold and grows, it grows into offense and unbelief. Once those attitudes take hold in our lives, our spiritual growth comes to a standstill:

Hebrews 11:6 NKJ “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”

Unbelief stands in opposition to faith and stalls us spiritually. Those things we have been fervently praying for will be kept from us as long as we have unbelief reigning in our hearts.

I never want to amaze God with my unbelief because I couldn’t receive from someone I was familiar with or because I became so familiar with God that I didn’t hold my relationship with Him in reverence. What a catastrophe, yes catastrophe, that would be; that I would keep God’s blessings from coming into my life because I had set myself up as judge and jury over others.

Today, I challenge you to hold your relationship with God and others with reverence. Yes, He can use whomever He wants to use, whenever He wants to use them, and however He wants to use them. I’ve found most of the candidates God calls are what we would consider “disqualified” because of lack of experience or their human frailties. Those are precisely the ones God uses for when He uses such incompetent people (like me), He will get all the glory!

I’m amazed today that God loves me so much and would send His Son for me, that He has given me wonderful people to serve with, and that He would use me to do something for His Kingdom.