All My Children….

JR Ewing

When reading the Old Testament many twists and turns take place. Some of the events in the bible would put soap operas  like All My Children to shame. And, the characters would put JR Ewing to shame. Although, there was misbehaving, mischief and scheming in the Old Testament, it never failed that God used these schemes, people for his glory.

soap character pic

Rahab a very unlikely candidate to fulfill God’s purpose. She was a prostitute and lived a pagan life . Yet, she willingly hid the Israelite spies from the king of Jericho. Rahab lied to the king and his men that she did not know where the spies had gone. Thus, sending the king and men of Jericho on a wild goose chase to find the Israelites who had come to take the land of Jericho. Rahab tells the Israelite spies that she knows their history and what God has done and is doing for them. She went against the grain of her people by professing that God was the only true Yaweh  to the Israelites.  She made an agreement with the spies that her family and her life would be spared in return for what she had done for them. Thus, she and her family’s lives are spared and in the end God uses this unlikely lady of the evening for his glory by putting her in the genealogy of our Lord and Savior. God redeemed her and she became the mother of Boaz.

promised restoration

Boaz became Naomi’s kinsmen redeemer. This was done when Naomi’s daughter-n-law followed her back to Bethlehem. Ruth was  Moabite. Again, a person who worshiped other gods besides the true Yaweh.  However, when Naomi tried to convince Ruth to return back to her homeland and not travel with her, we are familiar with the words Ruth spoke to Naomi: “Entreat me not to leave you, Or to turn back from following after you; For wherever you go, I will go; And wherever you lodge I will lodge; Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God.” ( Ruth 1:16) In that very monologue, Ruth denied the other gods her people worshiped and acknowledged the one true God, Yaweh.  If you are familiar with the Book of Ruth any at all you know that she ends up with Boaz and they give birth to a son, Obed. Obed is the father of Jesse.

hour glass

Then there was the time when God approached Samuel to bring forth his son to be anointed King. Samuel just knew his son, Eliah would be anointed because of his good looks. Yet, Eliah is not the one God wanted. After approaching God with his other sons, God asked if Samuel if he had another son. Samuel responded  by saying that he had one who was out tending sheep. God told Samuel to bring David to him. Thus, we know the rest of the story….David was anointed king.  

king david

Remember the story of King David and Bethsheba? David saw Bethsheba from across the way and he was captured by her beauty. He wanted this woman for himself. David wanted Bethsheba so badly  that he had her husband murdered. Not only did David have an affair with Bethsheba, and  her husband murdered so that he could be with her all the time, we know that David slid on that slippery slope more than once in his life. Yet, he as a man after God’s own heart. In other words, God knew David’s heart and used all the twists and turns of his life.  Not only did God use David’s twists and turns but out of Bathsheba’s and David’s relationship, a son named Solomon was born.  From Solomon we get the best advice and wisdom we could ever ask for known as the book of Proverbs.

Tears of Love

Can you see what is happening? All  of these unlikely people are building the most beautiful genealogy. They are in the genealogy of prophesy being fulfilled in God’s time. The prophesy of God coming to us in human flesh,to be our redeemer kinsmen,  to walk among us and to teach us of his marvelous grace.  We better know this  prophesy and walking human example of grace as Jesus Christ.

emmaus Jesus

Oh, I could go on of unlikely characters in the bible who God uses including more women and men not only in the Old Testament but in the New Testament as well. For example, who did Christ call to follow Him? He called dirty old fishermen and tax collectors. And, there is Paul. For the longest time he persecuted the Christians but in turn he became persecuted because he became a follower of Christ.

seeking the heart

In our society today, we have a tendency of sizing people up. We are quick to judge someone of their appearance, where they live, what they drive, what they may have done or not done,  and who they know. We may even look in the mirror and size ourselves up at times and question who we really are and ask ourselves what do we truly have to offer. Yet, we fail to see the hearts of others.  We fail to see ourselves as God sees us. Some of the best witnesses for Christ I have encountered in my life have been people in a homeless shelter. They have been people living on the street that gave me that word of encouragement I needed to hear at that moment.  It has been people who have very little to offer willing to open the door for me or simply give a smile that warmed my heart.

Jim and I love the following commercial. The first time we saw it we were rolling in the floor laughing.

Isn’t this commercial so much of how we size people up?  We see someone who is different from us, who may be dirty, have an addiction, a shady/shaky past,  or not the best outward appearance and draw a conclusion before we even give them a chance? If we are going to walk in the footsteps of Christ, we must see each individual as God sees them. We must seek their heart.

looking in the mirror

  Along with seeing others’ hearts as God sees them, remember the  next time you look in the mirror and you find yourself  sizing yourself up.   When you start asking what is your purpose in life,  know that God can use ALL of you, no matter your past, for his glory.  Each one of us who walk this earth is a child of God. God sees our hearts and says, you are “all my children.”

crown and heart

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An Invitation

As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come follow me”, Jesus said; “and I will send you out to fish for people.” At once they left their nets and followed Him.  

Matthew 4:18-20

memory lane

A couple of weeks ago Jim and I went to his home church to worship with his family. As the service began, the minister did his greeting and in his greeting he shared this thought: “When we invite someone to church, we are asking them to be part of God’s family and to join us on the journey to heaven.”   I loved this statement and it made my heart smile.

walking

Have you ever taken a trip with a group of friends? If you have, you probably experienced lots of laughter, fellowship, maybe a sing-a-long or two, and even some tears along the way. Yet, no matter the conditions, the ups and the downs, in the end, you would not trade that memory for anything in the world. You were glad you made the trip and may have even gotten to know someone a little better as you traveled together.  Not only did you get to know someone a little better but if your heart was opened, you probably learned a little more about yourself. You learned things of where you may need to ease up on or things you need to focus on more.

people

The spiritual journey is very much the same as taking a trip with a group of friends. In this journey, you fellowship with others, you laugh together, cry together, and even may get upset with one another from time to time. Yet, along the way you learn more about the person you are walking with and little more about yourself. Thus, the end result is you are day by day walking closer with the Lord.

walking with others

People are in different places in their spiritual journey and some have not even begun to plan for that journey. It is the responsibility as Christians that they not only keep walking daily with Christ in their journey but to be in tuned to those God places in their path’s and to meet them where they are at on their journey. If they are not even at the starting phase of their journey, people need to reach out a hand of grace and unconditional love and let the person know that no matter what they are welcomed on the journey. Then, just start walking with them from where they are at and before you know it they are walking along growing in their faith. As they grow, you grow, too.

There are also times when you are on your journey you may see someone who is a little further along than you.  Please know that is okay and that person will stop and come back  and meet you where you are at and will walk with along with you. In this stopping and going back to meet you where you are at, they are demonstrating all the more God’s grace and love. The end result is still the same. Faith gets a little stronger and everyone is still heading for the same destination.

journey

In the days ahead of walking on your journey, invite others to walk with you and journey with you through this world. Just remember, that our journey is much like a race, we don’t all get to the finish line at the same time but we can help one another along the way.  Invite someone on the journey. As the saying goes; “the more the merrier!”

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Preparing The Way

Christmas preparationsWhere does the time go? If you are like me,  you look at the calendar one day and think you have all the time in the world to get ready for Christmas. Then, it happens! You look at the calendar and realize Christmas is only three weeks away! Suddenly, we are jumping on that treadmill trying to get the house, the gifts and food prepared for our families, Christmas parties and Christmas Day.

Christmas shopping

Preparations are necessary for any big event. Yet, in the hustle of the Christmas Season and festivities are we preparing our hearts for the reason for the season?  Just as John the Baptist went out preparing the way for the Lord,  we need to be preparing our hearts for the Christ child. Though we may already be Christians and have Christ  in our hearts, it is our responsibility to prepare the way for the Lord’s coming again. We do this by sharing God’s grace and love with others who may not know Him.

Throughout the Christmas season I encourage you to stop and prepare the way as you make preparations for all the Christmas festivities on your calendar.  Prepare the way so others may know Him.

prepare the way

The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As it is written in the Prophets.

Behold, I send My messenger before Your face,

Who will prepare Your way before You.

The voice of one crying in the wilderness;

Prepare the way of the LORD;

Make His paths strait.

Mark 1:1-3

God’s Protection Plan….(continuation of living on a prayer)

As I sit having coffee and dessert in a quaint Chicago café, my son begins to tell me a story. The story unfolds and as it unfolds, I look at Drew’s dad, Jim and I look at Drew asking them if they are messing with my mind. Yet, Drew looks at me dead on in the eye and says; “mom hang with me, this is real stuff.”  Yet, it sounded like a scene from a Magnum PI television show or a James Bond movie.

After hearing what Drew went through only a couple of weeks before, I was speechless, dumb founded and yes that very moment was surreal.  I remember looking at Drew and asking him; “this really happened?”  The proof was in the pudding when he reached for his wallet and pulled out the bullet he found from the scene of the incident. At that point, I was saying to myself; “be still my heart.” Drew was saying to me; ” I will carry this bullet with me in the days ahead as a reminder of how big  our God is when I want to doubt my faith or I have a bad day.”  

In my previous post, Living On A Prayer, I shared a prayer that I pray nightly over Drew and Megan. I have prayed this prayer for Drew many years before he even moved out on his own. I keep Psalm 91 in the back of my mind when I pray this prayer. And, from time to time, I will read the Psalm as I begin to say my prayers.

As Drew shared, the story has been only told to a select few until our stepping out and sharing now. He even waited until he was in person with me before I knew what had happened.  When I shared this story with a select few, I saw God’s hand at work as I would share what Drew went through.

How did I see God’s hand? God protected Drew that afternoon in South Chicago.  Reflecting back and envisioning what Drew went through, I truly believe that those who were shooting didn’t see Drew. I truly believe that God’s angels of protection intervened and made Drew invisible to these supposed gang members.

After God’s revealing his protection over Drew on that afternoon, anytime I replay that scene as Drew told me in my mind today, I see a scene where there are people shooting but Drew is no where in the picture. Again, a scene you would maybe see in a Touched By An Angel episode.

Years ago, I participated in a small group study on the book, The Power of a Praying Parent by Stormie Ormatian. She shares how one of the biggest things we can do for our children is pray. Along in that same study, a dear friend suggested that we imprint the words of Psalm 91 into our hearts and pray them over our children. I took these words of advice to heart and I am glad that I did!

As young parents, we worry about our children falling down, breaking something or wondering away from us in a department store. Yes, these can be horrors of horrors! Then, as they enter the teen years and begin to drive, we find ourselves praying even harder. I know the first time Drew drove out of the driveway by himself, my knees hit the floor and I haven’t gotten up since!

You see, as a parent and as a praying parent, we never should stop praying for our children no matter how old they get. As I speak from experience, our kids need our prayers all the more as they grow up and grow older. Life hits them pretty hard at times and the problems get much bigger than falling off the swing set or getting lost in a rack of clothes in a department store. I can honestly say that I pray harder now that Drew is an adult, on his own, now married and the head of his household.

Along with praying the prayer that I shared with you, I envision Drew and Megan where they may be at that moment and where they may be the next day. If one of them is going on a business trip, I envision them on the subway going to the airport, at the airport, on the plane and their destination. In this envisioning of places, I ask God to place an angel in their path, to protect them, and to be seen walking with them.

This past Sunday, as our Sunday School leader wrapped up our session, she read the little Now or Later  at the end of our lesson. It said this:

Close your eyes and picture each family member or person to whom you have intimate ties. Give

each one to the Lord for his care and protection. Tell the Lord that he is first in your life. As you

yield them to the Lord, notice your heart responses. 

(Matthew/ Being Discipled by Jesus by Stephen and Jacalyn Eyre)

It is a big world out there with many challenges. Yes, there are also days when it can be a BIG bad world and our children are caught in the cross fire of life. The cross fires may not be actual gunshots like Drew experienced but the world will shoot its fair share of rounds at them.

What better gift can we give our children as to keep our knees on the floor, giving them to God and asking God to take care of them?  Who knows, there may be a time when they are visible but God makes them invisible for their protection. And, this protection is provided because we have yielded our child/children into the hands of God asking him to feather them with his mighty protection and angels.

Amen?

First Responders

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us all in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort which we ourselves are comforted by God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4  Sixteen years ago our country came to a stand still. On Facebook, people are reflecting on the horror of the terrorist attacks that took place on our soil on that September morning. I was in a classroom working one on one with one of my Title One Kindergarten students when my supervising teacher came in and told me and a colleague of mine what was going on. Time seemed to just stand still.

Crisis. Each day someone is faced with some kind of crisis. We may know someone who is facing a crisis at this moment. The crisis could be something that is life altering. For example, a loved one has found out they have cancer. Or, a loved one was taken all too soon. These are  the type of crisis that make time stand still while the world keeps on moving.

As Christians, we need to be the first responders just like those who responded first to this tragedy our country faced.  We need be first responders  to those going through a crisis. As we respond to these events, we need to be non-judgmental, don’t try to give a solution but simply be there to listen, to pray and to encourage the person(s) going through the crisis.  Remind them that there is a loving God who loves them and cares about every fiber of their being.

Being a first responder  may require  us to not say or do any specific thing.  The best thing we can do is to sit by the person(s) in the midst of a crisis and simply say nothing.  Yes, there will be silence. Silence is scary. But,our first responder,  God can do His best work in the midst of the silence.

It has been my experience that I remember most  those who simply sat there with me in the silence who dried my tears and simply said nothing.

Do you know someone in the midst of a crisis? If you do, first of all pray for them and place them into the Father’s hands. Go to them. Sit with them. Dry their tears. Allow our first responder, God work through you and be present in the situation.

I love what Max Lucado shares in his Lucado Life Lesson’s Bible;

“Don’t measure the size of the mountain; talk to the One who can move it. Instead of carrying the world on your shoulders, talk to the One who holds the universe.” Max Lucado- Traveling Light.

 

Forgive and Forget?

Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, long suffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.” Colossians  3:12-13

All of us have experienced hurt in our lives. Sometimes these hurts stung and cut us deep within our soul. In the midst of the hurt, others seek to give us advice. Two phrases come to mind that people express during a time of hurt either by themselves or others share as advice. The first phrase is “forgive, forget and move on.” The other phrase is “I’ll forgive but I won’t forget.”

Did you know that these two phrases really go hand in hand? Yes, we need to forgive to remove the control the hurt and the person has over our lives at that moment. We need to give the hurt to God and allow him to heal it and we do need to move on in our journey.

Now, what about the not forgetting? Once we have forgiven and moved on, it is important to extend a hand of forgiveness and Christ-like love to the person who hurt us. But, we must not forget what brought the hurt into play not to have as a revenge when something happens but to know what lead to the hurt to begin with. In this type of remembering, we are taking the hurtful experience and turning it into a learning experience in order to avoid getting hurt or hurting someone else ourselves.

Once we have forgiven, forgot the hurt by giving it to God, and realized the events that lead up to the hurt does not mean we have to be best friends with the person who hurt us. But, it does mean that we treat that person with respect, we lend a hand to them when they may be hurting and we love them with Christ-like love.

For me personally, I have walked through this experience more than once. Someone hurt me and sometimes the hurt was deep. Though I so much wanted to hurt back I didn’t. Instead, I placed the hurt into God’s hands and allowed Him to heal me.  In the midst of the healing process, I learned more about myself and my eyes were opened to events that may have led to the hurtful situation.

 Though I did not understand why I had gone through the valley, God eventually unfolded His plan of how it would all work for His glory. In other words, there was a person who hurt me that became the person who was hurt. No, not hurt by me but by someone else or some situation. As this person began to walk through their valley, they came to me to vent and sort out what had happened and their feelings.    You see, I had shed those very tears they were shedding and had felt that kick in the gut they were feeling at that moment. It was in my letting go, seeking forgiveness and learning from my experience that God had equipped me to walk through the valley with this person.

Yes, we all go through the valley of hurt from time to time. In the midst of this valley, we question God. We as Him why he would allow such a hurt to take place. Yet, when it is all said and done, we must realize that He is in that moment all the way through. He can turn that time of hurt, tears and anger into something that will eventually work for his glory.

Has someone hurt you deeply? How about forgiving that person and giving the hurt to God. Allow God to heal that hurt. Then, as you go through the journey look back on the situation and remember what you learned but use that knowledge for God’s glory, You never know when the tables will be turned and you will be walking through the valley with someone who is hurting. Who knows, it may be the very person who hurt you. From the eyes of heaven, it becomes a beautiful picture.

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