Monday, December 26, 2011

Lessons of 2011.

As 2011 comes to an end I, for one am glad to see this year end and a new one full of possibilities begin. I am hoping that 2012 is a better year. As hard as this year has been there have also been great times of learning and personal growth.

I have decided that I would use this last blog post of 2011 to share with you some of the things I have learned; the good, bad and ugly of 2011

I am thankful for people and circumstances God uses in my life to sharpen me. Proverbs 27:17 As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.

I am thankful for grace.
2 Corinthians 12:9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

I have discovered that though others may walk away from you in your greatest time of need your Savior never will.
Deuteronomy 31:6 Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

I have discovered that God gives strength far beyond what you thought you had but he only gives what you need for that moment.

God is faithful, kind, generous and provides what you need all the time.

Life is full of risks. Take daring risks to love. Value your own dreams (they are God given). Take the risks necessary to nurture both.

It is not enough to say that you believe that God’s blood covers all sin. If you set limits on your own forgiveness or list sins as unforgivable you are telling others that you do not believe the blood covers their sins.

Sadly, the unsaved world is often more forgiving than Christians. Shouldn’t it be  the other way around. I mean if we have entered into a relationship with God by accepting the work of Christ, then we should freely pour the grace we have received onto others. Yet so often it is fellow Christians who show so little grace and so much judgment. Or more often they will only show grace once you “clean up your act.” Their grace is riddled with rules and stipulations. This has been one of the greatest disappointments of 2011.

I have learned that unless you have lived through a circumstance you have no idea how you will react once in the circumstance. It’s easy to assume that we know what we would do but most of the time we cannot begin to imagine the enormity of the situation.

Music calms the mind and soul. (I knew this long before 2011 but I was reminded again this year.)

Don’t ever underestimate the depravity of the human soul or the amazing healing that Love can bring.

Love is not anything like we think. Love often asks us to do the opposite of everything the world tells us is normal.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8a  Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails.
Matthew 5:3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. 5 Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. 6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. 7 Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. 8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. 9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. 10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Those who are true followers of Jesus actively practice Matthew 5:39
If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. 40 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. 41 If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. Those who want to follow Christ wholeheartedly do this with amazing generosity.

Free will was given so that we could actively choose a relationship with God. He did not want us forced into this relationship or participate out of obligation. He wanted us to willingly come. This has been illustrated for me in my marriage this year. I do not want my husband to stay with me because it’s what is expected or he is obligated to do. I want him to stay because he chooses to participate in a relationship with me. His free will to choose tells me that he stays because he wants to.

Normal means a lot of different things. It is adjustable and ever changing. Don’t get stuck with a picture of normal and miss what your normal really is.

You don’t have to have a title to make a difference.

God created and designed me the way he wanted me to be, in the time he wanted me to live, surrounded by the people he chose. To wish for different is saying that he made a mistake.

These are some of the lessons I have learned this year. Some were eye opening revelations, some simple truths reinforced through tough times, others were just reminders of lessons previously learned.

I wish you a blessed new year filled with the lessons that God will use to fill your life with wisdom. See you in 2012.

Monday, December 19, 2011

How long is a little while?

I Peter 5:10: And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.

After you have suffered a little while. So I understand the suffering part. But how long is a little while? After all in Psalms we are told that a thousand years in your sight is as a day so really, how long is a little while?

Is it when the money has run out but the bills keep coming? Is it when you have tried all the exercises your counselor has recommended but your marriage is still falling apart? Is it when Christmas is coming and you can’t afford presents for your kids? Is it when you are despised by those who you used to call friend?

Is a little while when the foreclosed sign appears in your yard? When the door closes behind your wife, as she moves out? Or the Doctor tells you they have done all they can?

Is a little while when you are accosted by a stranger and told you are worthless? Or when you are ignored by family because of your choice to stay?

A little while, I’ve used that  one too God. When my kids ask when we are leaving to run an errand, it’s not for an hour but I say, “in a little while.” When my husband asks how much longer before I come to bed I say, “in a little while.” Or when a friend asks when I am going to sit down a rest, “in a little while.” It’s a very ambiguous term. Something someone uses when they don’t want to commit themselves to a real timetable.

But you, the author of time, does a little while depend more on my response than an actual measure of time. Does a little while mean when I give up control and surrender to your plan. When I stop trying fix it myself. When I do everything you have asked me. When I am still, and acknowledge the you are God. When I give up worry, striving and anger and I allow you to shape my soul. Is this what a little while looks like to you, Lord?

If this is a little while then let me learn quickly the lessons I need to. Let me release my stronghold and let you shape me. Please Lord, let a little while only be a little while!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Mercy Over Judgment

James 2:12-14
Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, 13 because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

Mercy. What a wonderful word.

Mercy brings forgiveness. Judgment brings anger.

Mercy brings peace. Judgment brings sadness.

Mercy brings life-changing love that compels us to that which is better. Judgment brings resentment and a drive to continue on the destructive path that we are on.

Mercy allows the sinner a chance to repent. Judgment lays down a set of rules that have to be followed at all cost.

Mercy draws a person to you. Judgment pushes a person away.

Mercy allows a person room to fail, room to stumble. But also gives room to get up and try again. Judgment brings only shame and guilt.

Mercy says, “I understand”. Judgment say, “You’re a loser.”

Mercy gives freedom to be who you are. Judgment says. “You have to be who I want you to be.”

Mercy says, “I love you no matter what”. Judgment says, “You are unacceptable until you get your act together.

Mercy stays. Judgment leaves.

Mercy says, “Come as you are.” Judgment says, “Until you are sinless, like me, I cannot associate with you.”

Mercy always trumps Judgment.

Which way will you choose?