Monday, January 30, 2012

Confession 218: Something to Think About

So, I'm being a little lazy today in posting a video my husband used in church Sunday.  The sermon title was, "I Believe In God But...I've Had a Bad Experience."  Unfortunately one of the legacies of the Christian church has been to condemn rather than to show God's grace and mercy to others.  Many young people, whom churches are actively seeking, have stories to tell of feeling judged, condemned, unworthy or manipulated by well-intentioned members of the body of Christ.

This video was created by a man named Jefferson Bethke and is entitled "Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus".  In only 2 weeks this clip has received over 17 MILLION hits!!  You might not agree with everything he has to say, but there's something here that resonates with many.  I think his point is valid.  I'd love to know what you think.  Linking up with Michelle today at Graceful.

Blessings and Peace,

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Confession 217: I Believe in God But...I'm Not Good Enough

My husband has been doing a message series entitled I Believe in God But....  This past Sunday the focus was on the feeling of not being good enough for God.  As human beings, we all have a past.  We all have moments in our lives we are not proud of, things we have done that have pulled us away from God rather than drawing us nearer.  "For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.If God were human he would be sorely disappointed.  And yet we know that God is not human.  God created all things and is above all things.  All nations and principalities will one day bow down to him.  He sits enthroned on High.  Nothing can shake his foundations.  And, nothing can take away his great love for us.

Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:
   “For your sake we face death all day long;
   we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Romans 8:33-37

Jesus Christ himself is interceding on our behalf to God the Father!!  It is the reason he came into this world--the reason he suffered and died--the reason he rose from the dead.  God LOVES us!!  God WANTS us!!  God REDEEMS us, including our "pasts".  God doesn't care who we were, he cares about who we will become in him.  He has a plan for our future that he is focused on.  Jesus wiped our pasts away; they have been flung into the depths of the sea.  God doesn't dwell on them, why should we?

This is a great video from Tony Campolo addressing this very issue.  He gives a great analogy of what happens to our "past".  I'm linking up with Michelle at Graceful today!

Blessings and Peace,

Friday, January 20, 2012

Confession 216: A New Friend

Today I'm excited to introduce you to my new friend, Heather.  Heather is a wife, mother to a beautiful 6 year old girl and a 6 year cancer survivor.  Heather's remarkable journey and faith serve as a reminder to me that you can never take life for granted, that each day is a gift, and that being a victor means never giving up--even when all the odds are stacked against you.  I've asked Heather to share her story here.  I am also putting up a link to Heather's blog so that you might continue to be inspired by her testimony.

Blessings and Peace,

My entire life, I’ve been an optimist. In my opinion, as long as you are alive the glass is half full. It is this personality trait that has often inspired others to tell me that I see the world through rose colored glasses. I’ve never disagreed. At the age of 36, I was having the best year of my life. It was 2005 and it was the 21st of November; almost Thanksgiving. That was the year the holiday’s had an even deeper meaning for me than they had in the past; I was a first time mommy to a brand new baby girl who was only three and a half months old.

That day, I received news from my doctor that would change my life forever; seemingly for the worst. My doctor told me I had cancer. Not just any cancer, but a rare and deadly form of malignant pleural mesothelioma. When the words, “You have cancer” came out of my doctor’s mouth I sat, stunned. My first thought was that I had a decision to make; I could go home and yell at God, asking him why he did this to me and blaming him for the worst thing that ever happened in my life or I could fight for my life and my baby girl’s life. I thought about my rose colored glasses and decided that if ever there was a time in my life I needed them, it was now. I put them on and asked the doctor what happened next.

My doctor referred me to a doctor that is the leading mesothelioma doctor and we began my battle; rose colored glasses on the entire time. My cancer was scheduled for removal in 2006 on Groundhog Day.

Upon hearing “You have cancer” you immediately know your life is forever changed and it seems like a no brainer that your life is changed for the worse. However, it was during my fight to overcome my cancer that I realized that this diagnosis did not have to change my life for the worse; it could change it for the better. And that is exactly the advice I heard from my new friends, all of who were cancer survivors like myself. Choosing not to become a victim to my cancer, my life was changed in a positive manner. My cancer was removed and each year on Groundhog Day, my family and I have a celebration of life; for that was the day my battle with cancer won and I was not a victim. I can only hope that my story serves as inspiration to someone going through something as awful as cancer.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Confession 215: Grateful

Yesterday, in worship, I was reminded once again of the central role gratitude plays in our walk of faith.  A wonderful, vibrant, faith-filled woman of our congregation gave the message and spoke of her father's terminal illness and subsequent passing.  Through all of the devastation of the illness and the grief in his passing, she never gave up her faith, but rather, used her faith to see her through this most difficult time.  She prayed for God's strength, for his comfort, for his presence and received all of those gifts and more.  It wasn't easy, and she acknowledged that it was a long time before she felt real joy again, but even in the midst of despair she felt God's presence with her.

In the 4th chapter of the book of Philippians Paul writes:
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (4-7)

Whenever tragedy strikes our lives, when the road seems to be all uphill and we just want a flat stretch of land to run it is tempting to turn our hearts away from God.  How can we be grateful for lives that are at times so full of pain and suffering and anxiety and the unknown?  How can we be grateful when our hearts are broken, when our spirits are shattered, when our souls are downcast within us?

Something that struck me in our speaker's story yesterday was a conversation she recalled with her father in which her father, shortly after his diagnosis, pondered the question that is so paramount when tragedy strikes: "Dear God, why me?"  In looking over his life and all that he had experienced, all the joy he had received, his response was not why me but, "Why not me?"  If we think we, as Christians, will live pain-free lives of holy bliss then we have not done much reading of the gospel.  Jesus himself said we would suffer.  We are not immune to the tragedies of life.

And yet, there is another promise to remember; the promise of peace.  Jesus tells us that bad things will happen, yet he also tells us (through Paul) that the Spirit will bring us peace in our times of darkness. We have David's exhortation in the 23rd Psalm that, "even when I walk through the darkness of death, God will be with me."  God will not abandon his people.  And that is precisely what we have to be thankful for.

Blessings and Peace,

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Confession 214: Treasure

Well, I have obviously taken a very long break from blogging, but am back online.  It is one of my New Year's aspirations (I like that word much more than resolution) to be a more faithful blogger and to get to know others through this wonderful medium!!  That said, I managed to grab some much needed quiet time this morning and asked God, as always, for a word I might take with me today.  Of course, he was happy to oblige and convict at the same time!! :-)  The message came from the book of Job.


I have not departed from the commands of his lips; I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread.  Job 23:12
It was the second part of this verse that struck me this morning, "I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread."  As some of you know, I like food a lot.  I enjoy thinking about what I'm going to eat throughout the course of the day.  I look forward to eating out at a nice restaurant or cooking a nice dinner with a decadent dessert as much as my boys look forward to getting a new Alivin and the Chipmunks toy.  It's probably fair to say that my mouth doesn't water over reading my Bible as much as it does over the prospect of a "Monster Cookie" at Cheddars!!  And yet, it's the bread of the Bible that's going to strengthen, enrich, encourage and sustain me over the course of my life, not the cookie dripping in fat and sugar. 

This verse doesn't have to be talking about food alone, however.  Our "daily bread" could be a myriad of things.  Maybe we treasure our money, or treasure making money, more than the words of God's mouth.  Maybe it's our job that is calling us away from God's Word, or our busy schedules, or our kids' busy schedules.  I think that most of us could point to something (or many somethings) in our lives that we treasure more than time with God.  But when we take the time to carve out those quiet places of reflection, when we make a conscious decision to put God first and to treasure his Word more than the other things in our lives, then our lives become more fulfilled, more enriched, more focused and more productive than before.

"For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Matthew 6:21, Luke 12:34

Jesus knew the absolute importance of placing God first.  He knew that what we value, what we spend our time and energy on, would make it's way into the very fabric of our being.  And shouldn't the very fabric of our being be made from the One who created us in the first place?

In this New Year, I want to treasure God's Word above all else.  I want to let God lead and follow where he goes. 

Blessings and Peace,

My Family

My Family

My Family 2

My Family 2