What Do You See Outside YOUR Open Window Today?

What Do You See Outside YOUR Open Window Today?
Remember: "When God closes a door, He always opens a window!" You never know what might be out there waiting for you!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Friends are friends forever...

Proverbs 17:17  "A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity."

So, today I discovered that I had been "de-friended" on Facebook.  I wondered why I had not heard from or seen any messages from a certain "friend" for a while...so I checked my "friend" list, and discovered that she was no longer there.  I know I didn't remove her from my friend list, so she had to have removed herself.  I checked a couple of our other "mutual friends", and she was still on their friend lists, so I then realized that this was a deliberate action on her part.

Wow! I must say I was at first a bit perturbed by this discovery. I mean, for quite a few months I had attempted to be as real of a friend as one can be on Facebook...even though we had never actually met face to face.  We became acquainted through one of our mutual friends, and although we didn't have a lot of things in common, I truly believed that there was a real purpose for our becoming friends.  Actually, to be quite honest, one could say that we both came from opposite sides of the Universe as far as what we believed, both religiously and politically, and what values we held as precious. In many ways we were extreme opposites, and we often found ourselves in the middle of a great debate about our individual stands. After going back and forth expressing our opinions, quoting scriptures, deciphering truth vs. fiction, we would then bring our "discussion" to a halt with an agreement to "disagree".  Even though I would become frustrated and somewhat disturbed by our differences, I actually appreciated the opportunity to stretch my own knowledge, take a look at the other side, and dig deeper for the truth.  It was a healthy exercise that kept me on my toes, and I was learning in the process.

I guess I need to just chalk this one up to inexperience in the art of relating to someone so obviously different than myself.  But I can't shake the feeling that our paths didn't cross by some cyber-space accident.  There was a Divine pilot steering our vessels into each others' worlds, even if for only a millisecond of eternity.  I don't believe in "coincidences"...they are ALL Divine appointments.  Both individuals do not have to agree on this point for it to be true, and I know my "friend" did NOT agree that this could be possible. (She was very emphatic about that!)

So, I pray that somehow, someway, in HIS TIME, our "friendship" will resume.  If not in this world, then maybe, by some stroke of God's paintbrush, it will be in the world to come.
"But Jesus looked at them and said to them, 'With men this is impossible, but with God ALL things are possible.'"  Matthew 19:26

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

What a Beautiful Way to Start the Day

 I just finished reading one of my blogger friend's blog from yesterday about praying with her spouse...here is the link so you can read it for yourself:  http://blog.martipieper.com/2010/08/pray-love-honor-and-pray.html%20

What a beautiful story...and I know it works. One thing I would add to Marti's thoughts about praying with her husband is that we,(my husband and I) always start our morning with our Bible and devotional reading together...this is with our morning coffee (his) and tea (mine). Starting the day with God's Word, prayer and sharing of thoughts and ideas is such a wonderful way to start the day, no matter what else is going on. Ending the day with prayer and "I love you" makes whatever happened during the day not as significant as the fact that we are together, We three are one...God, husband, and me. What could be better than that?

It is interesting that God led me to this today, as just last night when I was falling asleep, I was snuggled up against my husband's shoulder (armpit...doesn't sound as romantic, but technically that's where I was) and I had such an overwhelming sense of peace, calm, and comfort.  I thought to myself, this is what it will be like to rest in the arms of Jesus someday, perfectly at peace, assured of His Divine love, forgiveness and blessing...safe in the arms of Jesus.  But then, I had to stop and realize, "hey, I'm already there!"  Safe in the arms of Christ, perfectly at peace, assured of His Divine love, forgiven and blessed!  I don't have to wait for eternity to experience God's love and grace and peace...it happens right here and now...when I allow myself the  privilege of believing and accepting that forgiveness and peace.  It is a free gift, mine for the taking, anytime, anywhere, no matter what.
 Ephesians 2:8-9 says, "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast."

I love what Paul wrote further in this letter to the church at Ephesus:
"For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from Whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man (woman), that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height, to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God."   Ephesians 3:14-19
Oh sisters and brothers...it is my prayer today that you may also know this peace that comes from knowing Christ...that you may also experience the width, length, depth and height...and to know the love of Christ which passes ALL knowledge...and that YOU may be filled with all the fullness of God.   Amen.

Could there be any better way to start your day?

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Getting Fit? What's the Motive??

Proverbs 31:30: "Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised."

Today it seems as though there is so much emphasis in the world on beauty and keeping "fit and trim" (isn't that a dog food?) that I sometimes want to rebel when I hear of women going to the "Gym" and aerobics classes. I think I've already shown my rebellion by just letting myself go...I've proven my point...all that fitness jazz just isn't for me! I once had a friend who invited me to visit her health spa with her for a morning workout. I came well prepared...jogging pants and a sweatshirt, and lots of extra weight to lose. We tried out the different exercise machines, and when she saw that I couldn't even stay on the bicycle, let alone get it up to any speed, she suggested we just walk around the jogging trail. That suited me just fine! Funny, I've never heard from that "friend" since that day! I guess she found someone more her "speed".

Well, is it really a sin to try and be beautiful and charming? I guess that depends on your motive. I think a lot of us would do well to try and be a little more beautiful, charming and fit. What woman doesn't feel better about herself and her position in life when she's just had her hair done or when she has a great new outfit that she feels good in and knows it looks good on her? Sometimes even the simplest additions to our wardrobe can make a big difference in how we view the whole wardrobe. I remember one time we were invited to a 50th anniversary party at a lovely hotel restaurant for some relatives. There were many people invited that I didn't know, and as this was my husband's side of the family, I wanted to make a good impression. I didn't have an appropriate outfit for such an occasion, and we couldn't afford to buy one either. So in looking over my existing wardrobe I decided that a black skirt with a dressy blouse and accessories would be appropriate. However, my black skirt really needed a belt to finish it off properly. So I went to a local discount department store and found two great belts for a very low price...one was black velvet, and the other a beautiful tapestry with black trim. I decided on the black velvet for the dressy evening affair, but the tapestry belt made another whole outfit for church or other special events! So there were two new outfits for the price of two inexpensive belts at a discount store!

Back to the issue at hand...what was the motive? Well maybe it was vanity...I admit it...but at least I was "frugal and intelligent" (my opinion, ha!) in solving the problem! And because I felt comfortable about the way I looked, and that my clothes were appropriate for the situation, I was more at ease and able to forget about myself for the evening and enjoy the party.

The proverb says that "a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised." Perhaps what this is teaching us is that our goal in life should be to know and reverence (fear) the Lord, and not to desire to be noticed and admired by the eyes of the world. A woman who truly loves and knows the Lord will show it in all her ways. She will be charming and beautiful, but her charm will be the attractiveness of Christ glowing out from her, and her beauty will come from deep within her soul. Everything she touches will have a certain radiance of Christ. I've known sincere women of God who, although their physical features were plain, they were the most beautiful women I'd ever known. When we truly know Him in our hearts, all the other areas of our lives fall into the right perspective.

We don't have to be constantly "working out" to get fit, or filling our closets full of useless dresses to make us look beautiful. Certainly we will take proper care of our bodies, "the Temple of the Holy Spirit", because we are not our own since we were bought at a price (I Corinthians 6:19-20) and therefore we should "glorify God in [our bodies] and in our spirits], which are God's." Rather we should spend more time in getting our souls and minds "fit" for the Master's use, and He'll show us how to take care of the rest.

Lord, please help me to remember that You desire my beauty to come from knowing You, and not from a cosmetic or the latest hairstyle or fitness regime. I am reminded in Matthew 6:30-34 that if I will seek first the kingdom of God and Your righteousness, all these things shall be added unto me. You tell us in Your Word not to worry about tomorrow or about what we should eat, drink, or wear, because since you take care of the grass and lilies of the field, You will surely clothe us as well. Thank You, Lord, for this timely reminder. Amen.

Ok, friends, Please don't think that this was just a cop-out for not keeping myself in "shape". I truly desire to be in the best physical condition possible for my age and stage in life...and I do try to eat right, get enough exercise and fresh air, etc. It's all about keeping things in proper perspective and order in our lives...setting priorities and not letting any activity get out of control or placing us in an unbalanced position. The proper order should be:
  1. My relationship with God: which includes: spiritual, emotional, and physical attitudes and concerns
  2. My relationship with my husband and family
  3. My relationship with my church, friends, neighbors, co-workers and others
  4. Everything else

If I maintain this order...I should be in good shape!!!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Poor You Have With You Always...

Proverbs 31:20: "She extends her hand to the poor, yes, she reaches out her hands to the needy."

I am currently working in an old established historic church in an old established historic downtown neighborhood. Due to the current difficult economic climate in our country, our church is in a prime location for the transient, homeless and hopeless people to come searching for some kind of help.  We have so many hurting people stopping by on a regular basis that we had to limit our times of giving out assistance to one day a week.  This really hurts...the needy can't limit their times of need to one day and one hour a week.  We are having to turn people away every day because we just can't keep up with the constant flow. Our resources are being stretched to the limit and even our own church people are finding it difficult to make ends meet.  We refer people to all of the usual charitable organizations in the community that are established for that purpose, but we have discovered that the charitable organizations are sending many of these people to us in the first place because of their own lack of resources. It is a heartbreaking situation that is being played out in churches and communities all across the country.

I must admit that this is an area where I personally have a lot of difficulty. Oh, I've given a fair share to the needy, you know like old clothes to the Salvation Army and other such organizations, and food for the food pantry at church to be distributed to the needy or gifts for baskets at Christmas or Thanksgiving. But I feel like this just isn't enough anymore.  What else should I do?

God has called some people to become very involved in "rescue" type ministries in our urban areas. He has called others to foreign places where the gospel has never been heard. He has called some to difficult ministries in large suburban churches where the needs are of a different kind, but still important. Who's to say that one kind of ministry is more important or needful than others? Isn't that why God gave diversities of gifts to men and women in the body of Christ? I Corinthians chapter 12 is very comforting and helpful in understanding that God did not intend for all of us to do the exact same things in serving Him. Furthermore,
I Corinthians 13:3 says that "though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing." In verse 13 we are reminded that "now abide faith, hope, love, these three, but the greatest of these is love."

So I must conclude that the most important thing for me to do is show God's LOVE to those that He brings into my path. Whether they are rich or poor, sick or well, good or bad. All are equally important to God. If the needy are around us, we must reach out to them with love. However, we must also identify who the needy are in our personal sphere of influence. It may be the wealthy lady next door, or the bag lady on the street. It may be the teenage friend of your own child who comes from a broken home. It may be a lonely widow or the unsaved neighbor dying of cancer. It may be a friend on Facebook whom you've never personally met who has burdens she/he is afraid to talk about, but who always seems to be right there searching for hope and answers.

Yes, the needy are everywhere, in every neighborhood, in every church, and possibly right under our noses.

Help me, Lord, to identify the ones You've placed in my path that I may be able to help. Keep my eyes open, my ears attentive, and my heart softened to their pleas. Give me discernment to know when and how to act to show them Your love. Help me to always point others to You, and not to seek praise for myself. Enable me to screen out the voices of the world and tune in to Your voice only. Thank you, Lord, for teaching me Your way of love. Amen.

Perhaps you could share some of your ideas for helping others during these difficult times.  What does your church do to meet the needs of the needy in your community? How can others become involved?  Maybe this has gotten you thinking about ways you could help as well.  I know my mind is working on this, and my heart is praying about it.  I just pray that God won't let go of me until I do something about it.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Do Not Fear, Little Flock! (Reposted)

After reading an earlier discussion on facebook about the use of anti-depressants, I wanted to repost this blog written earlier this week. Although it does not directly relate to anti-depressants, I think it is a part of the overall picture of putting things in order in our lives...Our hearts, souls, minds and bodies all work together...if one part gets out of whack, the others will soon follow. Healthy souls lead to healthier minds and bodies...healthy bodies lead to healthier souls and minds...healthy minds lead to healthier souls and bodies. Obviously sometimes things happen in the body over which the mind, soul and spirit of the person have no control. But when our heart and soul are in a right relationship with God, the way we respond and act to the diseases of the body will be much healthier and more beneficial to our ultimate healing.  Just something to ponder...

Luke 12:29  "And do not seek what you should eat or what you should drink, nor have an anxious mind."

I think I'll stop right there for a moment and ponder that thought...especially the last part, "nor have an anxious mind." 

How often throughout each day do I have an anxious mind?  Not only do I worry about what I should eat, or what I should drink, or what I should wear, or what I should do next, or whether or not I should buy this or pay that bill...but I also worry about what to say at the appropriate time, to whom I should speak or write or call on the phone or send an email.   And these are mostly trivial concerns...not the really big problems that I ought to address...and I probably spend more time thinking about these minor issues than I do about the major ones.  However, the past couple of weeks have been a kind of wake-up call for me and for others that I know and love...

In addition to the already long list of loved ones who are currently fighting serious illness; i.e.; my 37 year old son Matthew who is undergoing chemo for an aggressive rare cancer and my 92 year old father who is also being treated for a rare type of skin cancer/melanoma, we have now added our cousin's husband Paul, who will be having surgery in a week for colon cancer and further treatment for liver cancer, and most recently my precious facebook friend Cyndi, who has just been diagnosed with a brain tumor. 

I recently mentioned Cyndi in my blog about my grandmother...she is the creator of the beautiful baby doll, "Elva",  given to me as a gift of love.  Cyndi is a unique and vibrant person...full of the love of life, her family, and God.  She has suffered some very painful hurts and losses in her life already, and yet impresses me as a person who has not
allowed difficult circumstances to weigh her down or hold her back from reaching out and helping others.  Instead, she has been shaped and molded by those circumstances and has forged ahead to restore broken relationships and has inspired others to do the same. 
Pres. George W. Bush, signing the Unborn Victims of
Crime Act, April 1, 2004. Cyndi is the 2nd person from
the right end.

Cyndi was instrumental in the creation of the "Unborn Victims of Crime Act", which was signed into law by President George W. Bush on April 1, 2004. http://youtu.be/09XX3Sp7UTQ Her pilgrimage into this arena was triggered by the horrifying murder of her beautiful daughter Heather and unborn child Jonah by Heather's estranged husband.  And even though her desire to see justice done on behalf of the unborn led her in this journey, she has also come to a place of forgiveness in her heart toward the young man who is imprisoned because of his actions against her family and prays fervently for his salvation.  She has also established a facebook site, "Jonah Speaks", as a forum to help spread awareness about domestic violence.  http://youtu.be/aA-pweZeOKc

Even though I have never had the privilege of meeting Cyndi face to face in person, I feel like I know her almost better than some of my closest friends.  Why? I believe it's a spiritual bonding that took place when something within each of us reached out to the other...a kind of understanding that I can only explain as a "God-thing"...a supernatural gift from the Holy Spirit.  I'm not trying to be mystical or  "somewhere out there"... and perhaps only those who have had such experiences can begin to comprehend what I am talking about...but let me just suffice it to say that I am extremely grateful for our friendship...and whether or not we ever have the opportunity to meet here on this earth face to face...I know we will meet one day in that land of eternal friendships...and we won't have to communicate via "facebook" anymore.

Yes, this story has helped me to think about things a bit differently...and not have such an "anxious mind." Rather, I should read the rest of this passage in Luke chapter 12: 
"But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you.  Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.  Sell what you have and give alms; provide yourselves money bags which do not grow old, a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches nor moth destroys.  For where you treasure is, there your heart will be also."  Luke 12: 31-34
I know I've asked this question before:   About what types of things are you most anxious? Think about where your heart is...is it set upon earthly treasures which can be stolen or destroyed?  If so, then your heart can be broken and destroyed as well.  How about investing your heart in treasures that have eternal value...then you really won't be too concerned about the activity of the stock market or other kinds of thieves taking away your treasures. You'll be assured of reaping the rewards of your treasures eternally. I like that kind of investment much more.
"Baby Elva and Me"