It’s All About the Bragging Rights Part 2

God's Criteria for Bragging is about Understanding and Knowing God.  We start with Studying the Bible.

God’s Criteria for Bragging is about Understanding and Knowing God. We start with Studying the Bible.

In Part 1, we read Jeremiah 9:23-24 where the Lord tells us not to talk about everything the world usually places high esteem on:  intelligence, power and money.  Rather God suggests a new criteria.  “Thus says the Lord, “Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,” declares the Lord.”

God’s new criteria is based on knowing and understanding the Lord God Almighty. How much do we understand God?  How much do we know God?  Now, that’s a challenge.  Do I understand and know God better than I did a year ago?  I hope so.  I work at dialoguing with God in prayer.  I take time to read His word every day.  But even doing this, I see new things in scripture that I thought I had read or memorized years ago, but the meaning didn’t penetrate my heart till a “now” moment.  It’s an ongoing process.  At some point, we will all have our Appointment with God.  For some, it might feel like a global SAT test for a class they never took.  We will be responsible for what God has brought across our path.  Maybe we should take more time to nurture God’s criteria points.  It begins with reading the Bible to learn about Him.  It continues with a dialogue in prayer.

 


Learning How to Honor a Difficult Parent – Part 1

Learning to Honor Difficult Parents is a Process

Learning to Honor Difficult Parents is a Process

The Ten Commandments includes a commandment about honoring our parents.  “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.”  Exodus 20:12.  It doesn’t  make any exceptions.  For some, it’s a tall order.

So how does one do this?  How do we honor a parent that’s complicated and not any of the things that God designed for a parent to be?  For years it meant keeping my mouth shut and not saying anything about my Mom.  The polite thing to do is say positive things and never talk about the tough things that happen behind closed doors.  To not say anything felt like pretending that everything was okay and living a lie.  Real friends were people who believed me when I shared a story or two.  Real friends were ones that validated my experience and didn’t make me pretend.  Even my father would say things like, “Oh honey, you don’t really mean that.”  Oh, yes I did.  It feels like lightweight denial.

Hence, the first step of the honoring process is honesty.  Real honesty.  Wow.  This is good news. Our parents are not better than they were.  It’s no longer about overlooking the truth.  Honoring starts with an honest assessment.

Our society trends toward wanting to have everything good or bad.  We like movies where the good guys are thoroughly good and the bad guys are really bad.  We like our wars that way.  The good guys are always good and the enemy troops are dark and evil.  Further, we want the good guys to win.  In studying Bible characters, the emerging pattern reveals God as perfect, and our heroes as flawed.  Looking at the Hebrews 11 list of characters, we see God honor various men and women for their faith.  Yet, we know their imperfections.  Noah endured ridicule to build an ark.  We also know about the night he drank too much and had to hide his nakedness.  We know Rahab hid the two spies and saved her family.  We also know she was a harlot.  King David had a heart after God, fought wars valiantly, and openly admitted sin and repented before God and man.  We know David’s sins included murder and adultery.  Nonetheless He was loved and honored by God.

Continued in Learning How to Honor a Difficult Parent – Part 2


It’s All About the Bragging Rights Part 1

Parents Love to Brag About Your Students

Parents Love to Brag About Your Students

Have you ever been at a red stop light behind a car with a bumper sticker that says, “My Kid was #1 at Main Street Elementary?”  People brag about their children.  They brag about their nationality.  They bear bumper stickers and clothing about the college they attended, or about their favorite sports team.

Taking it up a notch, there’s family reunion moments.  This is when it really is about who’s the smartest of all the kids.  The youth outdo each other at sports contests. Kids will make up a sport or push a rock to prove who’s the strongest. And the adults quietly talk about stocks going public, housing values, and retirement accounts.  Apparently, people have been doing this for thousands of years.

The Bible says, “Thus says the Lord, “Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,” declares the Lord.”  Jeremiah 9:23-24.

My extended family doesn’t compete with each other about how much about the Lord we know or understand.  We may share stories of what God has done in our lives or the lives of others we meet. We may talk about answered prayer requests.  We may talk about our churches or a good Christian book we’ve read lately.  There’s always more to learn about God.

To continue, see It’s All About the Bragging Rights  Part 2


Cherishing Hand Written Recipes – Part 1

Hand Written Recipes carry cherished memories of Loved Ones

Hand Written Recipes carry cherished memories of Loved Ones

There’s something priceless about a hand written recipe.  Usually hand written recipes on recipe cards arrive because of a request.  We ask for a favorite recipe and someone takes the time to write it down.  The request comes after something delectable catches our gastric attention.

Often the memory of a first taste gets linked to the recipe card like a photo.  Nana’s Christmas pudding recipe brings back memories of the Santa Anita Avenue house on Christmas when the woman who didn’t drink tried to light the brandy sauce on fire—usually with help, as it arrived on the table.  The original recipe is in her handwriting and makes me teary eyed as I pull it out each year.

I just went to a memorial service for Francie’s Mom.  I carried azaleas as I talked about the cheese soufflé recipe she wrote out for me when I got married.  It has a permanent place in my recipe box.

I still have Linda Beattie’s recipe for shortbread.  She lived with us in California for a year when I was 7-8 and I loved her British shortbread from North Ireland. The secret was mixing rice flour in with her regular flour.  Her 30-something son just visited us in California and he confirmed his Mum’s handwriting on the card written over 40 years ago.

Even the rice pudding recipe that gets passed by, stays in the box because Aunt Helen wrote it.  Not really known for being a cook, she taught me how to stretch peanut butter at the bottom of a jar into a sandwich.  She survived the depression and taught me the value of leftovers.

I still have a recipe that my freshman dorm RA wrote out that she made with melted ice cream.  We did this on hot nights when we couldn’t leave campus and craved something sweet.  We used mint chocolate chip ice cream with a graham cracker crust.

 

 


Stringing Moments Together into Pearl Strands of Life

Our Moments String Together Like Pearls

Our Moments String Together Like Pearls

One of our Home Group members woke up on Sunday to a beautiful day.  The rain has just fallen and the sun was showing through puffy white clouds.  One the way to church, there was a beautiful double rainbow.  It was if he could almost touch the pot of gold.  When he turned on the radio, his favorite worship song was playing.  It felt like God was speaking directly to him with love and approval.

Monday morning came and cars cut him off on the way to work and he barely overcame the temptation to swear.  Work pressures mounted all day.  The drive home was traffic delayed and a lukewarm dinner waited for his arrival.

Like so many of us, he wondered, “What happened?  How can God feel so distant 24 hours later?  Why isn’t there more consistency to our walk with God?”

We love the special times with God.  We cherish the mountain high experiences. Then we come down from the mountain into the valleys where most of us live.  Yet, we remember those mountain high experiences.  The Bible records several of these.  We read about Jacob’s vision of a ladder to heaven and wrestling with the angel.  We hadn’t heard much about his life before that momentous experience. We know he had two wives, multiple children, servants, and extended family.  He was a successful business man complete with inventory issues, sheep rustling threats, etc . He had estranged family members, and a history of deceit, complete with a reputation.  His life was filled with the mundane issues of all these days.

It was unusual for Jacob to have a night all to himself.  This night is when the Lord chose to talk to Jacob in a dream.  It was a life changing experience.  It was Joseph’s “moment” recorded in the Bible for posterity to share.

Like Jacob, our lives are filled with the mundane, day in, day out, decisions, and taking care of the family and community needs.  And then there are moments.  If we string our moments together, they start to look like pearls. Our moments are like strands of pearls.  When we get to heaven, we offer God our pearl strands.   They are the momentous moments of our lives that sparkle.  Our moments are designed to give God glory.

 

 


Pray for Faith like Stephen who was Full of Faith and Did Great Wonders

Stephen was Full of Faith and Power.  He Did Great Works.  He forgave the People Who Stoned Him to Death

Stephen was Full of Faith and Power. He Did Great Works. He forgave the People Who Stoned Him to Death

Acts 6:8 says  “Stephen was full of faith and power, did great wonders and signs among the people.”  The Bible describes Stephen as a man full of faith.  The Holy Spirit could do amazing things through Stephen because God is with the person who dares to believe God’s word.  Stephen is also described as a man full of power.  The Amplified version adds “power, strength and ability, working great wonders and signs (miracles) among the people.”  Since Stephen was full of faith and the power of the Holy Spirit, God could fulfill His purposes through him.  This is true for all children of God. When a child of God is filled with the Holy Spirit, that person’s faith spills out in prayer for others.

The Spirit of God will always reveal the Lord Jesus Christ.  We serve and love Jesus as we ask to be filled with more of Jesus. He promises to make Himself known to us through the Holy Spirit.  John 14:17 says, “The Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.”  John 16:13-14 adds, “When He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you.”  He is willing to fill us with the power of the Holy Spirit and faith just as He filled Stephen.  Jesus prophesied that people after him would do “greater works than these…because I go to My Father.”  John 14:12.  Stephen did great miracles  Paul did great miracles.  Various saints through the centuries have done great works.  Today, amazing works are recorded throughout the world with people giving credit to God.

In our individual quiet time, let us boldly ask God for more of the Holy Spirit to be deposited in us.  As intercessors, let us ask for all God’s children to be filled with more faith.  More faith, mixed with the truths of scripture, brings greater understanding of God.  (See Hebrews 4:2) A greater understanding of God combined with faith and scriptural truths accesses God’s power.  As this process grows, our prayers invite God to do great wonders and signs among the people.  Let’s pray for full faith for members of our spiritual family.

 


Prayers for the Parched: Beholding God

Waterfalls remind us of flowing in God's Love

Waterfalls remind us of flowing in God’s Love

One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek:  that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.  Psalm 27:4

 

Let me behold you and learn from that gaze

new things about you, O Lord

One thing I ask of you

that I may seek and find you

And dwell in your presence

now and forever

 

Until we get to heaven, it’s such a gift to behold God in nature.  Looking at a river or the ocean or a waterfall for a good long length of time is a treat.  Sometime gazing at a waterfall or a flower or a garden for 20 minutes can seem like a few hours.  It’s one of God’s gifts back to is to give us time as we take time to ponder him.

 

Heaven does not seem dull or boring.  The throne room may have a place to be “undone” by the majesty of his love—a place to soak and enjoy nothing but his everlasting love for us. In addition, there are many places in heaven to go and do and see and learn.  I think we get glimpses of heaven when we do pause to take in the beauty of his creation.


Going Beyond our Earthly Family Bonds to Investing in our Spiritual Family Part 2

This is Part 2 in a Series on Investing in our Spiritual Families.  See Part 1

What Does Your Spiritual Family Tree Chart Look Like?

What Does Your Spiritual Family Tree Chart Look Like?

As Christians I believe we are members of God’s family.  God’s family lines are not the same as those on earth.  Earthly families matter and people who claim to have visited heaven say that family members already there welcome new members of their earthly family when they arrive home.  But there are scenarios where people are in the family of God and their earthly family members have chosen to not believe in God.  There will be people in haven without their earthly family members.  God must have a way of folding us into heavenly families.

What if we get to heaven and our house size is dependent on the times when we extended love to people who were not our family members?  What if our “families” in heaven are through the bloodlines of Jesus’ blood and not just our earthly familial blood lines?  Have we invested in this family line?  Have we showed love to the family-less here on earth? Because it’s possible that they may be in heaven whereas our beloved family members may not.

I encourage us all to extend our earthly family circles to include our future heavenly family members.  Only God knows the deciding lines of salvation.  I suggest we invest in our future brothers’ and sisters’ lives here on earth.  This is different than the churches’ call to evangelism, to which God tugs on our hearts with various people. This is different than the call to entertain strangers, who may even be angels. (Hebrews 13:2)  This is the call to nurture our spiritual families on earth as it will be in heaven.

See Also:  Going Beyond our Earthly Family Moments to Invest in our Spiritual Family Part 1


Going Beyond our Earthly Family Bonds to Invest in our Spiritual Family – Part 1

What Does Your Spiritual Family Tree Chart Look Like?

What Does Your Spiritual Family Tree Chart Look Like?

When we read an obituary, it usually talks about surviving family members on earth as the legacy that someone leaves. But what about people who don’t have kids?  What is their legacy after living their lives?  If we gauge the legacy of a life on how many children they had, then there’s no place for people who didn’t have children.  It’s a valuation that single people can’t win at.  It almost makes their lives not have any value if they aren’t passing down their genes through a family line.

I know many wonderful people who may or may not have children to pass things down to.  I think we need a different criterion.  It may or may not be what great contribution we left to society.  What if we faithfully fulfilled our existence in life by serving others, but didn’t invent something amazing that changes the world?

I believe God has individual criteria for us to which we can all excel.  Did we do all that God created us to do?  Who would recognize this? What would it look like?  God gives everyone certain gifts and each of us contributes things that bring God pleasure.  Have we figured out what these are and developed them, and offered it unto Him?

There are lots of people on this earth who have wonderful and loving families and are great family members.  And this is fulfilling God’s call in life. But what about those of us who come from broken families?  What about those of us who don’t have children of our own? Does who we love count for something?

See Also:  Going Beyond our Earthly Family Bonds to Invest in our Spiritual Family – Part 2


Happy Reformation Day – Martin Luther Posts His 95 Theses in Wittenberg

Martin Luther launched "The Reformation" and penned A Mighty Fortress is Our God

Martin Luther launched “The Reformation” and penned A Mighty Fortress is Our God

On 31 October 1517 Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-five Theses on the door of Wittenberg’s Castle Church.  It started a revolution in the Catholic Church, and launched the period in history called “The Reformation.”

During the years following Luther’s Ninety-five Theses, he was excommunicated from the Roman church, lived with continual threats to his life and freedom, and had times of intense spiritual battles.  King David also spent many years running for his life from King Saul after he was anointed by the prophet Samuel to be King.  During these times, both Luther and David learned how to trust in, rely on, and hear from God

Martin Luther penned many hymns so the people could sing and understand their God. One of his most famous hymns has been translated into English and survived the centuries:  A Mighty Fortress is Our God.  The words continue to inspire us today.

 

A MIGHTY FORTRESS IS OUR GOD

A mighty fortress is our God,

A bulwark never failing;

Our helper He amid the flood

Of mortal ills prevailing.

For still our ancient foe

Doth seek to work us woe—

His craft and pow’r are great,

And, armed with cruel hate,

On earth is not his equal.

 

Did we in our own strength confide,

Our striving would be losing,

Were not the right man on our side,

The man of God’s own choosing.

Dost ask who that may be?

Christ Jesus, it is He—

Lord Sabaoth His name,

From age to age the same,

And He must win the battle.

 

And though this world, with devils filled,

Should threaten to undo us,

We will not fear, for God hath willed

His truth to triumph through us.

The prince of darkness grim,

We tremble not for him—

His rage we can endure,

For lo! His doom is sure:

One little word shall fell him.

 

That word above all earthly pow’res,

No thanks to them, abideth:

The Spirit and the gifts are ours

Through Him who with us sideth.

Let goods and kindred go,

This mortal life also—

The body they may kill;

God’s truth abideth still:

His kingdom is forever.