Encouragement for Today

Yesterday I was feeling very down.  I was hurting from something that had happened on Tuesday night, and so I had slept horribly and woke feeling out of sorts, tired and discouraged.  However, by the time I had finished my morning devotions, I was refreshed and recharged.  I was still tired.  I was still hurting.  But I had joy in the Lord.  Three things helped me: 1) Reading Psalm 5, 2) Praying, and 3) Reading a chapter in A Path Through Suffering by Elisabeth Elliot.  Each of these things helped me.  Today, I’m going to talk about the first of these three things because it is where I found encouragement the most yesterday.

Psalm 5 begins:

Give ear to my words, O LORD,
Consider my groaning.
Heed the sound of my cry for help, my King and my God,
For to You I pray.
In the morning, O LORD, You will hear my voice;
In the morning I will order my prayer to You and eagerly watch. (vs. 1-3, NASB)

That so closely expressed what I was feeling right at the moment I read it.  It helped that it was morning, and I was crying out right alongside the Psalmist.  I was begging Him to hear me, and I was eagerly watching to see/hear His response.  It touched my deepest soul to realize I wasn’t the first one to feel that way or cry out those words.

For You are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness;
No evil dwells with You.
The boastful shall not stand before Your eyes;
You hate all who do iniquity.
You destroy those who speak falsehood;
The LORD abhors the man of bloodshed and deceit. (vs. 4-6, NASB)

These verses helped me to remember that I needed to be careful to keep away from wickedness – even subtle wickedness, such as hard feelings and resentment.  It says that no evil dwells in God.  He is as far from evil as one can get.  He hates wickedness, sin, and dishonesty, so I had to be careful to make sure that I was (and am) staying away from it, too.

But as for me, by Your abundant lovingkindness I will enter Your house,
At Your holy temple I will bow in reverence for You.
O LORD, lead me in Your righteousness because of my foes;
Make Your way straight before me.
There is nothing reliable in what they say;
Their inward part is destruction itself
Their throat is an open grave;
They flatter with their tongue. (vs 7-9, NASB)

I asked God to keep my righteous, to keep me from making any move that would be wrong in His sight.  I asked Him to lead me in His ways, and to help me to not to take to heart any untruths that may have been expressed to me.  I asked Him to give me wisdom in what I said, and wisdom to respond appropriately.

Hold them guilty, O God;
By their own devices let them fall!
In the multitude of their transgressions thrust them out,
For they are rebellious against You.
But let all who take refuge in You be glad,
Let them ever sing for joy;
And may You shelter them,
That those who love Your name may exult in You.
For it is You who blesses the righteous man, O LORD,
You surround him with favor as with a shield. (vs. 10-12, NASB)

These verses helped me the most.  God reminded me that I don’t have to do anything.  It’s not my job to take anyone “down a peg or two” or even to necessary defend myself!!  God does that, and He does not need me to do it for Him.  In fact, He is the only one who could truly do that.  When I try to take things into my own hands, I usually tend only to hurt myself, so it’s better if I let Him handle it anyway.  These verses reminded me that God is my shelter.  He protects me.  He will surround me with His favor like a shield, if I remain righteous in His sight.  These verses encouraged me to do what is right and good – even in the midst of the seemingly bad things going on around me.

These twelve short verses reminded me that God is in control.  I don’t have to be because He is handling it.  He is working on my behalf, holding me in His hands, and working out His plan for me.  All I really have to do is rest in Him, remain in His Word, do what is right, and endure patiently while He works.  What a relief!!  He is my defender, my comforter, my protector, and my friend!

Thanks be to God for His unspeakable gifts!

Until Next Time!

Light & Darkness

Good Morning Friends,

It’s interesting to me how, when we stop trying to hold the reins, God works in our lives.  Recently, God has been doing a lot in my life, and He’s been showing me some areas where I needed to work.  These are areas that I thought I had already done the work that needed to be done.  There is one key thing wrong with this last statement – that is, I thought that I had done the work that needed to be done.  If I was doing the work – where was God?  The truth is, if I am trying to the do the work by myself, then that means at some point I pushed God away.

I’ve mentioned in earlier postings that I like to be in control.  I don’t like to have people tell me what to do, and I don’t like to think that there is anything that I cannot do.  However, that need to be in control is the very thing that can keep me from growing because when I am in control, 1) make a mess of things and 2) I don’t see the areas that I need to change.

Matthew 6:22-23 says, “The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light.  But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!”  The problem is, when I am in control, I don’t let God’s light shine into my life.  Those dark corners stay dark.  In fact, if left unchecked by Christ, that darkness grows until it consumes my whole life.

By contrast, when I let God have control, those areas of darkness are lit up, and then I can see where work needs to be done.  I can see where change needs to take place.  John 8:12 says, “Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.”” By relinquishing my “right” to change myself, I allow God to work in me.  I allow His light to permeate my life, and I get to have a greater impact for His glory.  This is not something I can do by myself.  Only God can truly change a life.  I can’t force myself to feel differently than I feel.  But God can work on those feelings, and if I let Him, He can change my feelings.  He can fill my heart and my life with change.

So, how do I do that?  How do I let God have control and not yank it back?  It comes down to trust.  Do I trust God enough to say, “You know better than I do what I need.  Give it to me, even if I kick or stomp my feet and throw a tantrum.”  It is realizing that God has my best interests at heart and is infinitely able to do the miraculous in a persons life.  How do I learn to trust God?  I spend time in His Word.  I pray to Him.  I cultivate a relationship with Him.  How do you learn to trust someone if you never spend time getting to know them?  It’s the same with God – you can’t truly trust Him until you know Him.  I can accept His gift of salvation, and never grow.  Or I can accept His gift and get to know Him, and grow more than I ever thought possible.

So, as I stated at the beginning of this entry, God has shown me some areas that need work.  I can choose to grab the reins and try to make those changes by myself.  Or I can do the harder thing and let God have the reins and change my heart.  The question becomes, do I want to live in the light or do I want to live in the darkness?

What about you?  Are you, like me, going through areas of change, realizing that there was more work to be done that perhaps you thought had already been done?  Or perhaps you have never taken the first step of knowing God, which is to recognize that you are a sinner, and accept God’s gift (that’s right – it’s FREE) of salvation.  Are you ready to do that today?

Lord, I pray that you will bless those who read this and use it for your glory.  May we all learn to trust and know you more.

In Jesus’ Name ~ Amen

I hope you have a wonderful Monday.

God Bless!

More Thoughts on Love

Good Morning Friends,

God has been talking to me about what love is.  Yesterday, I wrote about what some different definitions of love are, and how God showed us the ultimate love when His Son died for our sins.  Today, I want to focus in on one definition that I think sums up love very well.

As I mentioned, one of my former pastors had a definition for love that struck a chord with me.  Pastor Randy told us that love is “doing what is best for the other person.”  This means, that even if I believe something else is better for me, or even if I think what I want is more important, doing what is best for the other person is to be my foremost thought.  In other words, I am to die to myself.

So, what does this mean?  Does this mean that I give and give and give and get nothing in return?  I don’t think so.  It has been said that the more you love, the more love you have to give away.  I believe when this phrase is used, most people think in terms of human love.  If you love others, others will love you.  But that’s not always the case, and in fact, I have a different hypothesis about that statement.  I believe that the more I love, the more grace and the more love God gives me to have the strength to love more, even when I feel like I can’t love anymore.

We are commanded to love others.  This isn’t a command that was given in the New Testament.  It was given in the Old Testament first.  Deuteronomy 6:5 says “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”  This is reiterated in Matthew 22:37: “And He said to him, ” ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.'”

We are called to love our Neighbor as well.  Matthew 22:39 says, “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.”  This again is a quote taken from Leviticus 19:18.  And finally, we are called to love our enemies.  Proverbs 25:21-22 says, “If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat, and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink.  For you will heap burning coals upon his head, and the Lord will reward you.”  Matthew 5:44-45 says, “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”

So, as you can see, we are called to love.  God would not give us a command that He could not and would not help us to fulfill.  Will you join me today in striving to love all those whom God has made (which means everyone)?  We are going to fail at times, but God knows that.  He asks that we do our best to follow all of His commands.  His grace is sufficient for you and for me.

God Bless!!

Thoughts on Love

I have been giving a lot of thought lately to love.  What is it?  How do we show it?  How do we know we have it? Why do we seek it? Really, all of this boils down to my first question – WHAT is love?

There are so many different definitions of what love is.  For instance, Bing DICTIONARY has these definitions of what love is:

Verb: 1.transitive and intransitive verb feel tender affection for somebody: to feel tender affection for somebody such as a close relative or friend, or for something such as a place, an ideal, or an animal;  2.transitive and intransitive verb feel desire for somebody: to feel romantic and sexual desire and longing for somebody;  3. transitive verb like something very much: to like something, or like doing, something very much;  “I love watching old movies on TV.” 4. transitive verb show kindness to somebody: to feel and show kindness and charity to somebody;  “love your enemies”; 5. transitive verb have sex with somebody: to have sexual intercourse with somebody (dated)

So Love is a verb – it is an action.  It is something we DO.  Now, based on the above definitions, it almost seems like it’s more of a feeling we act on, and less of something we should just do.  Let’s see what else Bing DICTIONARY has to say about love.

Noun: 1. passionate attraction and desire: a passionate feeling of romantic desire and sexual attraction;  2. very strong affection: an intense feeling of tender affection and compassion; “Young children need unconditional love.” 3. romantic affair: a romantic affair, possibly sexual; 4. somebody much loved: somebody who is loved romantically or sexually; “He was her first real love.” 5. strong liking: a strong liking for or pleasure gained from something “his love of music”  6. something eliciting enthusiasm: something that elicits deep interest and enthusiasm in somebody “Music was his greatest love but he also liked ballet.”

Both the noun and the verb, according to Bing DICTIONARY talk about feeling and mostly dwell on the feeling elicited, as well as sexual or romantic feelings and actions.  But is this what love is?  If so, then love is shallow and fleeting.  What is the point of loving, if you can fall in and out of love so easily?  It hardly seems worth it.
A former pastor of mine defined love as, “Doing what is best for another.”  I really like this definition because this is something that seems tangible to me.  Sexual or romantic love is temporary – there are going to be times when I don’t “feel” love.  But there is never a time when I cannot do what is best for someone else – whether it be my husband, my children, my friends, or anyone else.
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Jesus was an example of the ultimate love.  He gave His life for us.  He asked God to keep Him from having to do so, if it was His will (Matthew 26:39).  But He did not fight it – He gave His life willingly.  He submitted to God and humbled Himself, and died for you and for me (Philippians 2:8). He didn’t have to.  He is God – with all the rights and powers of God.  He could have torn Himself off of that cross.  Instead, He did what was best for us – He died.  The good news is, He did not stay dead.  He rose again – there are many witnesses who saw Him after He arose.  Now, He is in heaven, again doing what is best for us – preparing a place for us.
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I want to have a love like His.  I want to do what is best for those around me.  I often fail at it, but God is faithful and He uses those failures to do a good work in the lives of those who love Him and serve Him.  What about you?  Do you desire this love?  Do you desire to accept this gift that God offers – His love and salvation?  You can.  All you need to do is ask Him.  He’s waiting for you – won’t you accept Him today?
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Until Next Time!
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Grace and Life

Today I am going to share an excerpt out of my journal because I realized a few things today, that hadn’t sunk in before.  I don’t usually share my journal with others, but in this case, I think it’s ok. 🙂

I can see God working in me.  I am still “becoming,” and I always will be, but I am seeing little changes here and there.  Elisabeth Elliot writes of her friend Terri’s walk and one line struck me (well actually, several did).  She writes, “She [Terri] could not do it [die to her self-life] by herself, but she could will to do it, and she could pray,” and “Grace enables us to do what we can’t do (A Path Through Suffering, pg 30).”  I had read these lines before and had even underlined the second I quoted, but it only sank in this morning.  I can’t do it on my own, but with God’s grace (and help) I can.  I often try to do it all by myself (pride) because I don’t want to let go of my “self-life.”  But I need to put my pride aside and I need to ask for help.  I can’t let my pride get in the way of my relationship with God.  I need to set it aside and accept God’s grace to get me through the difficult times.

See, I thought grace was a one-time gift that I received at salvation, but the reality is, grace is an on-going gift – one that God wants to give me every day, if I will let Him.  Even though I accepted His grace at salvation, when I let my pride get in the way of God’s gift of grace, it’s like I am saying that His grace is not sufficient for me.  I have been so wrong at times, and I had no idea that I was doing that until this very morning.  There is something to be said for the timing of God because when I read this almost a year ago, I did not get it.  But since then, God has obviously been working in me, because I see it now.

Now, it’s not that I never let God help me, or that I never accept His grace.  It’s that I often let my pride get in the way of my relationship with God and my relationships with others.  I get caught up in the details and forget to let God work.  It all goes back to the control issue.  I want to be in control, and the reality is, I don’t have control, God does.  God knows what is going to happen and He has a “big picture plan” in mind, and my agenda does not change His plan.  I have God’s grace at my disposal every day – now it’s time to take advantage of that.

I am so thankful that God never gives up on His children.  I have an everlasting hope because God saved me.  There is nothing that can happen to me that He cannot use for good and for His glory.

~Gabby

Worry

I often find myself worrying about things. I worry about how I’m going to afford the things we need, about how my kids are going to grow up, about my job, and sometimes about little things that mean nothing in the grand scheme of things.

The thing is, very few if any of the things I mentioned above consist of anything that I can control. I mean, I do work, so I do have the responsibility to budget wisely, so I guess I can have a direct effect on my financial situation, but I can’t control what is going to go wrong at any given moment, such as tires that need replacing. With my kids, I have the responsibility to give my best to them, and to bring them up in the “nurture and admonition of the Lord,” but I can’t control the way they think, the way they feel, or even what they do. When it comes to my job, I can do the best that I can with the work I am given, but I can’t control the actions of others, nor do I get to make final decisions on matters that affect the company as a whole. So again, I can only do so much.

So, why do I worry about these things? What is it that I think I can do by worrying? If I were to be honest with myself, I probably worry because I feel like I have some sort of control over the situation if I worry. It makes me feel like I am doing something by worrying. But really, do I even have a chance at making a difference in a situation by worrying about it?

According to Matthew 6:25-34 says, “25“For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26“Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? 27“And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? 28“And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, 29yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. 30“But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! 31“Do not (J)worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ 32“For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 34“So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (NASB)

According to this passage, God has everything under control.  I have no ability to even add one hair to my own head, let alone affect the situations that may come up.  I am not in control.  That is God’s place, and every time that I try to grab that control back into place, I end up messing things up.  I can’t do anything by worrying, but by God’s grace and with His leading, I am able to make a difference in my life and the lives of others.  I need to take my mind off what I need – according to this passage, God already knows we need food and clothes – and I need to put my mind on God’s kingdom and on His righteousness, and let God take care of the rest.  That doesn’t mean I don’t do my best in all situations, that just means, I do my best, and then I let God have control and work His will.

How comforting to realize that I don’t have to take care of everything.  I just have to do my best and seek God – and He will lead me in His will – even if that means that someday, I lose everything.  God is in control.  I can rest in Him.

The Unknown

Have you ever been in a situation where you know just a tiny, little bit of the puzzle, and that’s it?  I have, and I am one of those people who just really likes to know everything.  I don’t like to be kept in the dark.  If someone has something to say to me, I’d just rather they say it than to hint around at it or, worse yet, talk to everyone else about it – where I end up hearing it through the grapevine (and it turns out to be so much smaller than it seems when heard through the grapevine).  I don’t know – perhaps I am in the minority in this, but I have a feeling that many others feel the same way.

In addition to wanting someone to just tell me what’s going on, I also like to know the way things will turn out.  Now, I’m smart enough to know better than to actually expect that to happen, but I would be lying if I said that I didn’t want it to happen.  I do not like to take risks if I don’t have a reasonable indication that the risk will pay off.  That’s just not my style.

And yet, isn’t that what faith is?  Taking a risk, with the hope that it will turn out alright?  If I stick to my guns and refuse to take a risk because I am scared of the outcome, then am I really refusing to step out in faith, or am I being wise?  And really, is there such thing as a sure thing?  I mean really?

According to Hebrews 11:1,  “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (NKJV).  If you go to the New American Standard Bible, you will find that it says, “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”  These are not talking about two different things.  What it is saying is that we are so sure of our faith that we can see the evidence and are convinced that our faith is valid.  We act upon that belief.  We step out and take a risk because we believe that what we have been told is true and right.  Nothing here says that there is no risk.  God has asked us to take the ultimate risk – belief in His Son, Jesus, that He died for our sins (because we are all sinners), He rose again after 3 days in the grave, and He went back to Heaven to prepare a place for us.

We risk everything, and yet we really risk nothing.  Think about it, how much of a risk is it?  We’ve been told how it will end.  God wins!  We get eternity with Him!

Now one might ask, what if it’s not true?  What if we trust God, and we live our lives according to what He asks us to, but it turns out to all be a lie?  My question in return is, what have you really lost?  If it’s not true and reincarnation is, then you get another chance!  If it’s not true, and there’s nothing after death, then it’s not as if you risked anything because there was nothing to look forward to.  So the reality is, you really have nothing to lose!

We may not know or understand all the reasons we have to go through the things we go through.  God doesn’t promise us that we’re always going to know or understand.  What He does promise is found in Romans 8:28 “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (NASB).  And along with the Apostle Paul, I say with conviction, “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39, NASB).

What about you?  Are you ready to take the “leap of faith”?

~Gabby

Relaxing Day

I have found that I have a tendency to go, go, go all the time, without stopping to take time to relax and recharge.  Take last month for an example.  I cannot think of a single weekend that I did not have something planned from the first weekend in September through the first weekend in October.  So, not only did I work all week long, but I didn’t take time to rest on the weekend either.  Is it any wonder that I ended up sick and it took me so long to get over it?

Now, don’t get me wrong – there was nothing that I took part in that was bad.  There are a lot of good activities that I took part in.  For instance, one of those weekends was spent at the Answers in Genesis conference – it was a full weekend, which started on Friday night and ended on Sunday night.  It was totally worth going to, and I don’t really regret going.  Another weekend, my girls had an over-night party at the church.  Not that I didn’t get to have some alone time, but it wasn’t really a relaxing time – I pretty much ran around trying to get stuff done that I normally wouldn’t be able to.  Another weekend was a brunch for single parents, which was held at our church.  And then last week was my birthday, so of course there was a party!  So, as you can see, my weekends were pretty busy.  I don’t get time during the week to relax because I, of course work every day.  So, that leaves Sundays, which are spent at church pretty close to the entire day (there are a couple of hours in between the service and our afternoon drama/choir practices).

All this is to show that we get caught up in DOING.  So, where in all of this is there a time for rest?  Isn’t rest important, too?  Obviously, the answer to this question is yes.  In fact, God commanded His people to rest.  He said, “You shall work six days, but on the seventh day you shall rest; even during plowing time and harvest you shall rest” (Exodus 34:21, NASB).  In fact, God set the example of that at the creation of the world.  Genesis 2:2-3 says, “By the seventh day God completed His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made” (NASB).  Looks to me as if God thought rest was pretty important.  So, why do we spend all our time doing, instead of taking the time to rest?

When we do not take the time to stop and rest, we set ourselves up to fail.  Rest is the way our body recharges itself, the way it regains its energy.  If we do not take the time to rest, we keep ourselves from reaching our full potential.  When we do not get enough rest, our bodies and our brains do not work properly, causing us to make mistakes, get sick, and if deprived long enough, we could even die.  Now, my guess is that most of us would not allow ourselves to go until the point of death, but I do know many of us tend to push ourselves to the point of exhaustion.  This doesn’t do any of us any good.

Now, you may ask, why I would even take the time to write about this.  Well, I got to thinking about it because today, I got a chance to relax.  I slept in for the first time in a very long time.  Normally, I am up no later than 8 am on the weekends (I’m up at 5 am during the week).  But today, I slept in past that time.  I woke up feeling refreshed and ready to take on the day.  I got a chance to really spend time in God’s Word, without feeling like I was ready to fall back to sleep at any moment, and I could tell that I was REALLY in His Word, and not just going through the motions.  I got to type up my notes for the Bible Study I’m trying to write.  I got to play a few games on my computer.  I went to the library and checked out more books.  The most non-relaxing thing I did today, was to do our laundry – and that really didn’t take a lot of effort.

Today, I feel like I really LIVED.  I didn’t feel rushed or stressed.  I got to enjoy today, all because I took the time to rest.  If only I would do this more often.  I might find myself growing in so many ways.

So, what do you think?  What do you do to relax and recharge?  Do you do it often enough?  How could taking the time to rest and relax help you to grow?

~Gabby

Single Parenting

Being a parent is hard.  Whether there are two parents in the picture or only one, being a parent is probably the most difficult job anyone could be asked to do.  You are responsible for molding a child into a thriving, strong, stable person.  That’s a lot of pressure to put on two parents.  It’s even more pressure to put on one parent trying to do this on their own.  Being a single parent has a lot of difficulties, but there are some things that are more difficult than others.

I’ve been a single mom twice now – once when my children were little and I am again, now that they are in their pre-teen/early teen years.  One of the hardest things I have had to deal with is that I am in this by myself.  I don’t have someone to back me up when I make a decision.  I have to make these decisions all by myself, and if I mess up, I have to get myself out of the problem.  Being a single parent can be pretty lonely because there is no partner to lean on when I’m not feeling up to par.  I feel like I have to be strong all the time because there isn’t anyone else to be strong when I feel weak.

Another difficulty is the issue of income.  I make a pretty good salary considering the economy, but things just keep getting more and more expensive, and I have to somehow be the one to pay for them all.  It means that often I do without so my children don’t have to.  I feel badly because there are so many programs that they want to be a part of that I can’t afford.  My children never really complain about it, but the pressure is there when I see other children excelling in areas that I know my children would be great at too, if only I could afford it.

A third area of difficulty that I have found in being a single parent is that I have a tendency to be over-protective.  It’s easy to do because chances are, if someone is a single parent, he or she has been hurt by someone or some event.  The impulse is to try to keep the children from having to go through anything painful, and therefore hopefully they won’t get into a similar situation or have any problems in life.  As silly as that sounds, the reality is, that I often feel like that.  Even though I know in my head that it’s silly and actually will hurt them more to be overprotective, my heart tells me to keep them close so they won’t get hurt.  I constantly have to battle the urge to keep them from situations that have the potential to cause them pain (for instance if they fail at something they want to try).

Again, being a parent is hard, even with two parents in the picture.  But being a single parent has its own set of difficulties that need to be overcome.  What a single parent needs to keep in mind is that the ultimate goal is to raise well-adjusted, productive children.   If we allow these difficulties to get in the way of that, then we risk pushing our children into the very situations we are trying to avoid.

Conversation With God

I had a conversation with God this morning.  It’s not the first one I’ve had…it’s just one of many.  But I felt compelled to share it this morning.

By definition, I am a hypocrite.  A hypocrite is defined by the Merriam Webster Online Dictionary as follows:1 : a person who puts on a false appearance of virtue or religion; 2 : a person who acts in contradiction to his or her stated beliefs or feelings”.  In point of fact, despite those who would argue otherwise, anyone who calls themselves a Christian is, in point of fact, a hypocrite.  Before you get upset, let me explain my meaning.  Even if we are not a hypocrite in the sense of the first definition – which I would hope most of us are not – we all are in the 2nd.  I do not know one single Christian who does not act in contradiction to his or her stated beliefs or feelings.  And we are in good company.  Even the Apostle Paul said that he had problems in this area.  In Romans 7:18-19, Paul says,18For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. 19For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want.”(NASB) (You may want to read the whole chapter in context, as well, because there is a lot more about this subject.) And look at Peter, who denied Christ 3 times, after stating he would DIE with Christ rather than deny him (Matthew 26:33, Matthew 26:69-75, John 18:17-27, Luke 22:31-62), yet deny him he did, along with all Christ’s other apostles.  So, I again submit, we are all hypocrites in some respect.

Now, I do have a reason for making this statement upfront.  It’s not to make anyone feel guilty or even that they are unworthy (though all of us are).  I started this blog by stating that I had a conversation with God this morning, and I felt compelled to share it.  See, I was struggling with a wrong I had committed – and struggling with the fact that I, too am a hypocrite – though I wasn’t really thinking in the terms of a hypocrite, rather just in the terms of being in the wrong.  And I asked God to forgive me and to help me.  And then I asked him how He could love someone like me.  I mean, I am a filthy, dirty, horrible human being.  Yes, I do good things sometimes, but I do wrong way more often.

And His response to me (and yes, I do believe He responded) was that He loved me because he created me.  So I went on to describe my “horribleness” and how much I fail.  And I said again, “HOW can you love ME???”  And He said, “I created you.  You are beautiful to me.  I sent MY SON to die for you because you were so beautiful to me, and I want you with me always.”  Imagine how humbling it is to realize that the God of the universe loves ME and thinks I am beautiful.  Me – the horrible, dirty, filthy hypocrite that I am.  God thinks I’m beautiful – and He loves me.

He told me that my sins have been forgiven by the blood of His Son…who died for me.  For my sins.  For my wrongs….and so now not only am I beautiful, but I am clean.  Yes, I should feel ashamed when I do wrong and I do need to repent when I do wrong and I do need to ask Him to forgive me when I do wrong – but I don’t need to LIVE in shame.  I don’t need to hate myself or beat myself up over it.  When I accepted Christ as my Savior, I gained not only a Savior, but an advocate who argues on my behalf – Jesus.  This knowledge is amazing and humbling and heartbreaking all at the same time.

Amazing – that God would even think about me – let alone love me.  Humbling – because I know I am undeserving.  Heartbreaking – because my Savior had to die, so that I could live.

And guess what!  God thinks you’re beautiful too.  He created You.  He loves you.  He wants you to be with Him.  He doesn’t want you to have to go through whatever it is you are going through alone.  He gave His Son freely – you don’t have to do some great thing to earn His love and Salvation – you just have to accept His free gift (Ephesians 2:8-9).  He’s not looking for you to be perfect – He knows that’s not going to happen.  He just wants you to come to Him – just as you are.  He can make you whole again.

So, that’s the conversation that I felt compelled to write about this morning.  I hope that it brings a measure of comfort to others and a measure of hope to others.

In Christ,

~~Gabby

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