COMFORTABLE?

5 Mar

Comfortable?
by Linda Weaver  
6/26/2013 / Christian Living

As God’s children we are sometimes led by Him into uncharted waters – areas we are unfamiliar with. In the Bible there are stories of many who were called by God into unfamiliar territory or directed by Him to do things that were way out of their comfort zone.

In Genesis, Chapter 12, we read that God told Abram (later called Abraham) to leave his country, his people, and his father’s household to go to a place God would later show him.

Wait a minute — do you mean God would ask someone He loved to pick up everything and just go somewhere else without telling them where?

What in the world would you do if God placed that instruction in your heart? Oh, and did I forget to say that Abram was 75 years old at that time? So, in case you are thinking you’re too old think again.

Further, the Scripture says, “So, Abram left, as God had told him”. I mean, Abram packed up everything – his belongings, his family, his animals and left his old life behind.

Okay, I’m sure I can imagine what you may be thinking. I don’t have the space to write about it all here. However; if you think God wouldn’t ask something of you without giving you a map from beginning to end, you are mistaken, my friend. That is what faith is all about.

Besides, I’m sure God may have already directed many of you in some areas of your lives. And, if so, how did you respond? I can probably guess at many of the questions and excuses that you could come up with. (Ask me how I know.)

“God, are you talking to me?”
“I must have imagined that.”
“Where in the world did that come from?”
“Surely God wouldn’t tell me to do that.”
“That doesn’t make any sense.”
“I can’t do that. How would I . . . ”

You see, the very lives we live follow God into many unknown areas and uncharted waters if we are truly listening to Him and letting Him direct us. It may not be about going to a “far country” as God instructed Abram. But, it may be a tug at our hearts to do something else which may take just as much faith. We can’t map out our lives like we do a vacation. When we walk with God, life gets very interesting at many levels. Besides, a “far country” is anywhere that is unfamiliar to us.

Think I’m a little out of balance? Well, it’s okay if you think that. Sometimes I’m not so sure myself. But, I do know this. I trust my God in heaven. I know His voice, and I follow His direction to the best of my ability.

Do I make mistakes? You can be sure of it. Will I again? I’m sure of it. Why? Because I am most certainly human. But, I have plenty to say about how faithful God has been to me in the midst of many a trial and many a storm. Most of them took me on a journey I didn’t think I was ready for with no idea of exactly how I was going to get there. My peace came from within, knowing that God would never fail me because He never has.

Each journey I take with my Heavenly Father, takes more of my trust and faith. And, each journey gets more exciting. Scary, yes, but exciting. God knows where I’m going that’s what is important. He can see around the corner — I can’t.

Walking with God doesn’t allow for being in a rut. Don’t like being uncomfortable? Neither do I, but I want what God wants for my life and that usually means being a bit uncomfortable. It also means not coming to a dead-end.

My friends, God wants you still kicking until He calls you to your mansion in the sky. If you sit down and get comfortable you’ll miss out on some exciting things.

Like A Red Flag To A Bull

26 Feb

Becoming a child of God does not mean we are free from adversity. We will still face major challenges in our lives. There will also be times when we assume we are in a mess because we always do everything wrong. Satan works hard at putting condemnation on us. But, it’s all hype.

Moses answered God’s call to deliver the Israelites. He was given instructions to go to the Pharaoh and deliver God’s message to let His people go. Now it would seem to me that if God gave me instructions to do something and I did it just as He said, I would succeed in that task. But it didn’t happen that way for Moses. The Pharaoh refused every command he was given by God (through Moses). The point being, God had a master plan. He wanted the Pharaoh and all the world – forever to come – to see His glory and His power. So, what appeared to be Moses’ failure in the eyes of the people watching, was all part of a bigger plan to exalt God’s love and provision for His people.

Just because things don’t happen the way we think they should doesn’t mean God isn’t paying attention or that His plan isn’t working. It means that God uses all things to work together for good. All we can see is what is right in front of us. God sees the big picture. That is why Scripture tells us to walk by faith and not the circumstances that we see.

We don’t always know where our trials come from. We blame a lot of them on the devil. Becoming a Christian is like a red rag to a bull! But, don’t be discouraged by that. Jesus said we are more than conquerors. He warned us that we would have trials in this life. He also told us many, many times to “fear not”. He said that “Greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world.”

Being afraid of the devil and what he can do should not be an issue with us as Christians. God’s Word gives us promise after promise of defeating the enemy.

When you think of the red flag and the bull – see yourself as the bull – not the red flag! What power could that little red flag possibly have over that big raging bull? (An average bull weighs from 1700 to 1800 pounds. I doubt seriously if the red flag even registers on the scale.) Selah, pause and calmly think about that.

According to askville by Amazon, the bull is being provoked and tormented by the matador. That is exactly what the devil does to us. He waves a red flag in our face to taunt us and to provoke us and to torment us. The bull can charge that flag all day and accomplish nothing. The red flag is powerless. It’s a tool in the enemy’s arsenal to keep us off guard – to keep us upset – when all we are really doing is running in circles and chasing something that can in no way hurt us.

Why in the world would you let a little red flag being waved in your face taunt you and cause you so much distress? See it for what it is. It is nothing but Satan trying to cause a distraction so that he can keep you from God’s best. And, take note of the fancy matador. He struts his stuff and makes a show but once the raging bull gets past that red flag to him – well, you get the picture. Kind of puts things in a different perspective, doesn’t it?

Jesus gave His life so that we could face anything that comes our way. We may run in circles chasing red flags, but in the end the red flag is just a red flag. It is otherwise useless against a child of the King.


 

Are You Dragging Your Past Into Your Future?

28 Jan

Pastor asked us one Sunday if we were moving forward in life as we moved forward in time. Wow! That is a powerful statement and plunged my thoughts into all kinds of places. Since I’m not a spring chicken any more my first thoughts were of my physical appearance. Vain though it is, my age has been telling on me in many ways recently. I didn’t think I was a vain person but that idea has now flown right out the window! I never allowed my thoughts to linger on aging until I woke up one morning old! I know, that’s not responsible but I believed I would always be youthful even when my age continued to rise. Oops! Not good.

In my defense, I have always been tenacious, hard-working and a lover of life. I have many interests and lots of things on my life-long bucket list. The thought of aging didn’t seem like something that would affect me that much. I have always seen myself as successful with the ability to overcome any and all challenges. While I suppose that is a good attitude to have it definitely needed some adjustment a lot earlier in my life.

I always pictured myself being able to work and take care of myself right up until my Father in Heaven called me home. Then, I would just close my eyes on earth and wake up in His presence. Sounded like a plan to me. Another Oops! While a positive attitude is a good thing, it doesn’t always mean we let go of things we need to let go of. I tucked many things away in a private place of my own because the thought of letting go meant change, and I’m usually more comfortable with things staying as they are. I have certainly found that out in this particular stage of my life. I am closer to my seventh decade than my sixth. That being said, I am at a time in my life where all those thoughts I used to have about aging not being a problem for me . . . .well, let’s just leave it at Oops!

When Pastor asked us if we were moving forward in life as we moved forward in time – I had to adjust my thinking a little. I like to think I’ve moved forward in time. Part of me has definitely stayed in the past. I suppose that’s to be expected as our years keep climbing. It becomes a little more noticeable when in the latter part of our sixtieth decade our body starts to argue with our minds about what we should and should not do anymore! I can understand that when it comes to some things, but I never thought it would be applied to getting up out of a chair or not having enough hair to cover my scalp anymore! I also didn’t realize how much I was going to dislike those tiny little lines in my face and around my eyes (the word starts with a “w”). And, I certainly didn’t think that I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between navy blue and black anymore. I could go on but I’ll stop there.

I don’t think that is exactly what the Pastor was referring to anyway. I think he had something completely different in mind. Actually, what he was talking about is a little more serious and a lot more harmful to our spiritual condition. I still didn’t want to deal with it but when Pastor shares what God has given him to share – it’s time to listen up.

Life itself forced me to face the aging process. I can’t ignore what the time God has given me is doing to this earthly body. On the brighter side, I definitely love the fact that when my appointed time comes to meet Him face to face – I won’t need this broken down body any more. I’ll have a completely new one – not sure what to expect  but I know it will be good.

My heart was stirred with Pastor’s question.  I had to face the sobering fact that there were a few things (maybe more than a few) that I was shielding from my past. Time passed and I had several things in tow that I didn’t want to leave behind. They had become too much a part of me, and  the idea of letting them go was never in question before now.

Let me put it like this – I can’t drive two cars at one time! If I buy a new car I either trade the old one in and enjoy the bright shiny new one, or just buy the new one and admire it in the driveway while I keep driving the old one. Doesn’t make much sense, I agree. I can keep them both if I want to. Or, I can go back and forth driving one and then the other. The truth is I need to let the old one go and begin to enjoy the new ride.

There is much more to be said on this subject – Stay tuned.

Sticks & Stones

5 Jan

Our Pastor started a new series Sunday called “Sticks & Stones” – Great message – I was so inspired by everything he said that I decided to post my own comments about some of his remarks.

He quoted a remark made by Mike Tyson – “Everybody’s got a plan until they get punched in the face!” That “hit” home with me in a big way. While we are making an attempt to wait on God we get caught up in situations that we consider to be “the right things to do.” We can get so wrapped up in a project or a goal that we slowly move away from God’s purpose for our lives. There have probably been times in our lives that we were moving in a direction that we believed to be an amazing idea or a great adventure. The idea was great – we couldn’t wait to make it happen. Motivation took over and so many things began to look possible. Then – Oops – what happened?

Everything starts tumbling down. Possible it may be that the time has come to “back out” of something. I always say that getting into something is always easier than getting out! Another quote I like is “It can be a GOOD thing but may not be a GOD thing” I don’t know about you but I prefer to do God things.

Good things should be normal everyday occurrences and so should God things. The difference is that good things are incidental, God things are deliberate. According to the dictionary good things are things of high quality, first-class, first-rate, respectable, upright, noble, etc. God things are directives from Him. For instance,  instructions or commands – possibly even a mandate.

There are times that we get caught up in agreeing to do something that may seem like a good thing to us, but our motive is off just a little. We mean well and we want to help so we jump into something with both feet. Then, before long, we realize jumping in wasn’t such a good idea. When that happens to me it’s usually because my intentions were good and I meant to do something good but I didn’t check it out with God first to see if He was okay with my plans. God blesses what He calls us to do – big and small.

Please understand that we are not talking about the everyday good things we do when we are attempting to live godly lives. We are talking about God’s direction for our lives, God’s will and His plan for us. According to Pastor’s sermon, God is the author, not us, and we need to stop mourning over what God is no longer blessing in our lives. He added that sometimes the hardest thing to get rid of is something that no longer meets a need. That certainly includes me.

As he pointed out, we may be holding on to things we’ve had for many (many) years. We are attached to them and can’t let go. I have a big problem with this. I consider myself to be “sentimental” – that’s my reason. I have attached memories to certain things, and to let them go just isn’t easy for me.

Pastor challenged us to let go of whatever it is that we are holding on to that may be holding us back whether it be material or otherwise. God, the Holy Spirit, is our counselor. He is the one who can guide us in how to let go of the things that are keeping us from walking in the GOD things – which HIS blessing will be upon. Scripture is life’s instruction book. God speaks to us through His Word and gives us the direction we need and the peace that we are in His will.

This series is going to continue so be sure and check back.

“Thank You” Doesn’t Seem Sufficient

11 Nov

I’m not in a habit of posting my personal prayers here, but this morning my time spent with my Heavenly Father was an expression of love that I want all the world to experience. I pray that as you read this you will open your hearts to a real, approachable God who loves you and wants your love in return.

My Father – my Lord – my King, and my Friend; my Counselor – my provider – You are so good, and so kind. You are beyond earthly words. My heart overflows with love for You. You are so immersed in everything around me. I see You in all things. You are my anchor. I am tethered to You and that brings security to my heart and soul. I search for words to express my love and adoration, but I cannot find them. My  heart is filled with gratitude for the peace and joy You bring to my heart.

Thank You doesn’t seem sufficient. I am grateful that You can see my heart, and know my every thought. All I have, and all I am are because of You. I could do nothing on my own. You open my eyes to many new things – things I would not know – they are beyond my capacity and my abilities. You create in me new things each day. I want the world to know You. I want them to know You are a real, and personal God available on a level that no one else is. You give me a love the world cannot possibly give because it is beyond their ability.

Even through all my hurt and pain – my weaknesses – my faults – my mistakes – my habits – You still love me with a love I can’t understand or explain. You satisfy my every longing. My every fear melts away because I know You are there shielding me. Nothing can breach the barricade you have place around me.

In every sorrow I have experienced – in every loss – in every trial and tribulation – You rise above them. Your presence and Your Spirit engulf me. You put all the pieces of my broken heart back together. You replace all doubt and fear with faith and hope in the future.

No matter how weak and frail my mind and body might become, You hold me in the palm of your hand as I look to You, knowing You are not going to let anything touch me that will destroy my spirit. I will be with You forever, and forever – no matter the state of my body or my mind or my emotions. My Spirit is one with Yours, and nothing by any means can hurt me.

Thank You, My Father, for a love the world cannot give – for Your peace that far exceeds my understanding – for the assurance that I will spend eternity with You and all those who have gone before me, and who will come after me.

In the mighty, precious blood and name of Jesus, Your Son, I pray. Amen

NOTE: – I shared this prayer with you because I want you to know Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour and the Holy Spirit. There is no other love or thing in this world that can fill any void in your life except for Him. There is no other God – no pill – no drink – no sex – no material thing – no experience that will ever satisfy you like the love, joy and forgiveness given to you by God. All you have to do is ask Him. Ask Him to forgive you of your sins, your mistakes and anything that concerns you. It’s not difficult – He will meet you right where you are – just as you are. He will give you what nothing else in this world can give you – the love and acceptance you long for.

I pray for every soul that reads this prayer. I pray that through it you will gain a sense of God’s outrageous love for you – so much so that He really did sacrifice His one and only Son, Jesus, so that you and everyone in the world as the choice of everlasting life in heaven with Him over hell and damnation. He loves you so much that He wants you to love Him because you want to, not because He can make you do it.

This will be the most important decision you ever make. Your future depends on it.

May the peace of God that passes all understanding be with you.

You Don’t Have To Be Here To Be Here!

6 Nov

I was watching a movie the other night and was immediately inspired by a scene where a popular school teacher had died. Several children were sitting in a group, reminiscing about good times and feeling down and sad. They were interrupted by another teacher who wanted to encourage them. He said to the group,  “I know you are really sad that your teacher died but don’t you know you don’t have to be here to be here? Every time you give your knowledge away or what you have learned – every time you give something to someone – you give a little part of yourselves to them. You have a little bit of everyone who has given into your life. They are here with you, you just have to know where to look.”

Wow! So many thoughts and feelings flooded my heart and my mind. That is an awesome truth. First, I thought of my Mother who died a few years ago. I miss her so very much, yet so much of her is still with me. I  have many of her material things, but I don’t drag them around with me to keep her near me. My Mother is always – always – with me. She’s in my heart. I hear her voice when I do something I know she wouldn’t like. I hear her sweet, loving words to me when I am discouraged or hurt. I can see her face in my mind’s eye. So many of the things I learned came from watching her and listening to her. I hear many people say,  “I’m turning into my Mother.” Many of us say that as though it were a bad thing when, in fact, it can be a very good thing. That’s where the statement “. . .you just have to know where to look” comes in.

Just think about how many people have become a part of us – our parents – our siblings – our friends, and so on. We glean from each and every one of them, even if it is to determine we don’t like certain things they do, and we surely don’t want that part of them to dwell in us. More than likely, we even catch ourselves picking up certain traits of others – repeating their phrases or their reactions.

Unfortunately, deposits into our lives by others are not always positive.  Some of the deepest hurts and fears left as residue from them may  keep us bound by vows we have made as a result of the pain they have caused. They are still with us. That means we are looking at the wrong place in our hearts. (We might say, “I’ll never let anything like that happen to me again,” or “I learned my lesson – I won’t do that anymore”). Surely there are also good things deposited into us by others yet we tend to focus on the negative things and not the positive. We then begin to put walls around our hearts and push others away based on what one person did to us. Over the years, the deposits made by others can even keep us away from the destiny that God has prepared for us.

The Scriptures tell us Eccl 5:5-6 ” It is better not to vow than to make a vow and not fulfill it. 6 Do not let your mouth lead you into sin.” NIV   We should re-think any vows that we may have made and ask God to forgive us. We can’t assume that because one person has hurt us that others will. That is when it is vital that we “. . . know where to look.”

My mind races with how many ways this affects us. I’ve had a good, long life. I’ve experienced a great deal of pain and loss. (See how I mentioned the pain and loss first?) I have also been blessed with so much good – more good than bad. When I think of the pain and loss, I think of the people who are here with me, even though they aren’t here with me! On the other hand, when I say certain things or experience some feelings of fun and joy, I think of others who are with me, even though they aren’t here with me. So many of life’s experiences have made me who I am today.

The most important fact of all is that God is with me – and He is here with me even though I can’t see Him – He is here with me! There is never a time He isn’t with me. He lives in me – He never leaves me. He isn’t just a memory. He’s alive and He is with me always – at all times – good and bad. He talks with me – He listens to me – He helps me to overcome the negative things that have been deposited in my life by others. His is the influence I need to live by – nothing else – good or bad. My memories of others are part of my life forever, but they don’t make me who I am. God does that.

If you don’t know the God of Abraham, invite Him into your life. Ask Him to forgive you of your sins and to come and live in your heart. He is an amazing God – Jesus said in John 14:6 “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. NIV

Only God can see to it that our  hearts are cleansed and free from everything that would keep us bound.

 

ONLY ONE

9 Sep

I am always so blessed and encouraged by our word from God through our Pastor on Sunday mornings. I get excited and inspired each time. God’s Spirit swells up inside mine and I can’t help but share what I’ve been blessed with.

I have to admit that throughout my ministry I’ve always liked sharing God’s Word with large groups. I had visions of speaking to great crowds of people because God used me to teach and to minister and I wanted to reach everybody at one time. Then, one day, He taught me a very important lesson.

I was working for the Minister of Education for a very large church. I worked hard and accomplished a great deal. My boss took a lot of the credit for the work I did (beyond the everyday work I did for him). I know secretaries are supposed to support their bosses and make them look good. I was okay with that. But I was also a leader in the church and I worked hard alongside him over a very large Sunday School Department.

I was really proud of some things I did (pride – another thing that God wanted me to be rid of), and I was anxious for everyone to see what a great job I did. At a meeting of all our Sunday School leaders my boss introduced the new program I had designed – then took credit for it! I was incredibly angry and hurt. I fumed over it for several days. I talked to God about it and told Him just what I thought about the situation.

In God’s awesome love and wisdom, He spoke gently to my heart. He told me that if I could let go of wanting recognition for all that I did He could use me greatly! Wow! An awesome word from God. I have to admit, I liked the recognition and wasn’t sure I liked the idea of giving it up, but I love my Lord and I wanted to be used by Him to reach others. I gave my anger and resentment and  all other sinful thoughts and feelings over to Him, forever remembering that God is the one to receive the glory – not me – not my boss – not anyone else!

I kept my vision of reaching crowds of people through my teaching and ministering. I had been asked to teach at several seminars, Bible studies, my and other events and I loved it. One day,  a lady visiting our church, spoke a word to me about it. She told me that God knew that I wanted to minister to His people but that I couldn’t do it all at one time. She said God wanted me to know that He would send me to the one He wanted me to minister to. He said He would show me to go to “this one” or “that one” and that I would reach them for His kingdom. He gave me that message many times throughout my life from others who even said that I would reach others even in the grocery store or in the beauty shop!

I chuckled inside because God used that  first woman to let me know He knew what my desires were, and His were the same except that He wanted me to do it “one” soul at a time. I think I realized at that point that I still kind of wanted the glory. Pride is an awful thing. It creeps up on us. Even to those who don’t think they are proud – they are proud that they are not proud!

Since those days long ago, God has brought people to me – “one” at a time, or sent me to encourage “one” at a time. I learned that there are amazing results in ministering to one at a time. It is God’s way of letting each “one” know just how much He loves them  – enough to send His son to die for them, and enough to send someone directly to them for prayer and encouragement.

God didn’t just select me for this – He selected us all. We have only to make Him a priority and to let Him use us – not for our glory or our recognition – but for His glory and His purposes. If we get the glory that belongs to God, the “ones” we reach won’t recognize just how much God loves them and wants to bless them.

The message God sent through our Pastor made me realize even more how much each “one” of us matters to Him on a personal, one on one, level. That is truly a miracle!

By the way – all those ones add up to a crowd of people!

God’s Ways

26 Aug

In today’s society it is hard to hear God above all the noises that surround us.  My biggest heart’s desire is to please God, and to do the right thing – meaning – the thing God wants me to do.

As part of the older generation I find it difficult to keep up with all the social media. There are so many good things about it – I love being connected all the time.  It’s kind of like getting out of the house without getting out of the house, or having company without having to clean the house.

Obviously, there are many “words” flying around us all the time – videos, text messages, emails, Hangout messages, Twitter, Instagram, and so on, and so on. It is easy to take our focus off God’s voice or His Word, with all the other “voices” coming at us – almost impossible to avoid all the “chatter”. Some people even need to have constant music, gaming, entertainment, streaming videos and constant text messages to be at peace.

Hearing God over all that isn’t easy. It can be done, but we have to remember to listen for His still small voice coming from among all the other voices. I suppose it’s kind of natural that as I age I rather like things a little slower, but whether we like things slow or fast we need to reserve a place for God, not leaving Him out.

If we’re too slow we can miss what He has for  us – if we’re too fast, we tend to get lost in all the noise around us. God’s ways are amazing, perfect for us, but we can either be too tired and weary or in too big a hurry to hear what He has to say about an issue. If that happens we can find ourselves in a precarious position. God IS our security. We need to hear Him before we jump off the cliff of indecision – not call out to Him on our way down to bless our jump, or to save us from hitting the ground!

Let’s get it right the first time. The way we do that is to do  it God’s way. Of course, it will probably mean we don’t get to jump in (or off) and then cry out for help. It means we take our petitions to Him first and wait for the answer. We don’t like that word – wait – not in today’s world. Yet, if we walk in God’s ways, we can actually save wasted time by doing it right the first time.

Walking with God is a choice, and being consistent about it isn’t always easy. Sometimes our adrenalin is just rushing and the last thing we want to do  is take a few minutes of our time to talk to God.  We decide to talk to Him on the way off the cliff. The thing is, that few minutes with God could save us so much unnecessary anguish.

Take time to get before God, tune into His frequency even if  it’s just for a minute or so – especially if you have a “red flag” in the pit of your stomach or feel uneasy in any way. The Wi-Fi connection you have with Him is better than any of the others. Just stop a moment and call out to Him – He will reply. He may tell you to be still – to wait. If He does, it is for a very good reason. Listen for Him. Trust Him. Obey God’s ways.

 

One Thing

25 Aug

Sunday morning our Pastor encouraged us all when he spoke to the children about starting the new school year. The title of his sermon was “One Thing“.  He wanted us all to know about the one thing  we need to remember at all times as we face life every day. The message inspired me so much that I wanted to expand on it. The following Scripture tells us what that one thing is:

  • Matt 22: 37-38 “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment.  NIV

My youth and my prime are behind me. I am in the winter of my life. It’s been a rough life, but one thing has been consistent – God. All other things change. Just about the time we get comfortable, something (or someone) upsets the apple cart and we have to pick ourselves up, wipe off the dust, and keep going.

God isn’t shaken when we are. He is the one thing in our lives that remains steady. For that I am eternally grateful. He is my rock; without Him I’m not sure I could face today or tomorrow, let alone the future I face as a senior citizen. I find peace in His Word that promises me that He will never leave me or forsake me.  One thing I can count on is His faithfulness. So can everyone who accepts Him as their Lord and Savior.

I wish I knew how to express the peace and satisfaction life holds as we keep one thing in mind – He is always with us, we can count on Him – those aren’t  just clichés. Until we put our hope and faith in Him, and develop a one-on-one relationship with Him, we find life almost unbearable at times. With Him, life is not only bearable, it is fruitful, it is fun, and even exciting.

God is so real. He isn’t a figment of our imagination. He is alive. He is progressive. He knows how to speak to  us with the assurance of His presence, even though we can’t see Him. He is more real than any person with skin on! He is just as present with us as they are – even more so.  He is with me every moment of every day and He is the one thing that I can depend on when everything around me is unstable. He is available to each and every person that will call out to Him.

We all believe in something. We use our faith every day. Why not use that faith to believe in God and His presence? Why not do that one thing that would welcome Him into our lives – whatever it is that we might be holding back – maybe it’s yielding to Him – inviting Him into our lives. Or, it could be that we aren’t sure He hears us. That one thing might be stepping out to read the Bible on a consistent basis. That’s the main way God communicates with us. As we read it, we aren’t just reading an old Bible story. We’re reading about the lives of people who, back then, were just like we are today. They weren’t any more special than any one of us. They faced the same doubts, fears, temptations, and hardships that we face. God’s Word reveals how He helped them, and how He used them, and how He took care of them. Most important, we can read about how God forgave them and loved them no matter what they had done.

God doesn’t expect perfection from us. There is only One who is perfect – God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. He came to earth in the form of man (Jesus) and died on the cross to take our place for all of our sins – past, present and future. God is not behind the times. He doesn’t grow old like the rest of us. Nothing we have in today’s world would be possible without Him – nothing.

One thing I know without a shadow of a doubt – God loves us and He wants only good things for us. The one thing we have to yield to Him is our hearts. He will do the rest. He will come down to our level and help us out of whatever situation we are in. He is approachable, and forgiving. His plans for each one of us are for good and not evil. He wants to bless us and not punish us.

God  is the one thing I can count on in my life – nothing else.

Connecting

1 Aug

Driving down a very busy road, I was trying to look at a text. I had driven a couple of miles, through several intersections  looking out the windshield, and back down at my phone.  I eventually snapped  back to the present moment, and realized I hadn’t been 100% attentive to my driving, the traffic, or how far I had traveled. That’s a scary thought.

I believe it’s the same way when someone I am talking to is looking at their phone. They know I am there, they see me, and they hear me – sort of, but their attention is divided, and truthfully, more concentrated on their electronics. Maybe others are better at multi-listening than I am.

We have gotten so infatuated with social media that instead of  looking in the eye of the person we are conversing with, we have to look at the top of their heads as they begin to converse with someone else on their phones or concentrate on whatever else has electronically distracted them. That kind of gives me a complex. I almost feel as though I am intruding .

We are human beings and though social media is wonderful for many reasons, it can also hinder relationships. We need one another. We need face to face interaction. The words we read in black and white are just that – words. We don’t see the expression that goes along with them which might cause us to misunderstand their intent. We don’t  hear the sound of the familiar voices we love or connect on a more personal level. True, we are busy people and there are many advantages to our being able to reach one another immediately through social media, but we also need the personal, one on one time together.

Our church, offers small groups called “Connect Groups”.  There are several small groups, according to attendance with new members joining along the way. I have been a member of my particular small group for a couple of years now. We meet one night a week for about six weeks at a time. We break for a few weeks and then come back together.

Our group facilitators email weekly “Talk It Over” sheets which are the basis for our discussions. We spend a few moments answering the discussion questions. When we meet, we begin our time together with refreshments and general conversation. We then turn to our Talk It Over outlines which begin with a couple of fun questions designed to help us get to know more about one another. We discuss the questions and passages of Scriptures from Pastor’s message on Sunday. It’s a great way to open the door for us to share our personal thoughts on the subject, or to ask questions if we don’t understand something.

There are facilitators for each group, but every member of the group has an opportunity to give their answer to a particular question or to ask about anything they don’t understand. It’s a powerful way of getting to know one another and the Scriptures at the same time. Everyone participates. When the class is over for the evening we leave having a much better understanding of what our Pastor taught us the previous Sunday – and we have fun doing it.

Although we do have great fun, we also share serious moments. We ask questions that have been burning in our hearts, we encourage and pray for one another, and just enjoy our time together. We laugh a lot. Our personalities begin to show as we begin to see one another as who we really are. We are no longer just another person sitting in a church pew on Sunday mornings.

I attended church just over a year  with casual smiles and greetings, but never really getting to know anyone, and leaving as lonely as I came. I was a disconnected member. We all know the feeling. We are alone in a crowd of people – watching others who are obviously part of the inner circle. We feel kind of left out and wish we felt more at ease.  After joining the weekly Connect Group, I  greet true friends on Sunday mornings with something to talk about  – we really know each other.

I’ve heard it said that if we want friendship we have to become a friend. It doesn’t happen instantly, and it’s not up to others, it’s up to us. We have to become a little vulnerable and let others in – let them know who we are.  It requires a small sacrifice of our time and effort.

I’m in my sixty’s – I’ve been a church member for a long, long time. I’ve served on the staff of several churches and led Bible Studies, Ladies Groups, Prayer Meetings, Seminars and many other church events. Connect Groups are not the same. They are unique and personal. I love being able to be a part of my church in this way.

Connecting face to face is important  and vital to us. Nothing will ever replace a friend with skin on talking to us face to face in a room full of mutual friends.

 

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