Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Tangles of Life

I wrote on Facebook yesterday, "It is such a comfort to drop the tangles of life into God's hands & leave them there." I've had this framed saying on the wall for years and just took it down. I had it hanging above my make-up table with some other favorites, but it looked kind of crowded and I took some down. But I can't put this one away. I need to see it every day so I hung it on a nail in the office.

Tangles of life aptly describes our lives right now. We were sure we were selling our house and moving to Amarillo but that has changed. Now we may stay in this town. We just aren't sure what God's plan really is. We did the first thing we were sure of--put the house on the market. The first two weeks we had non-stop realtors bringing clients to see it. Then the looking ceased. We had one last week and have had no calls since.

We haven't stopped planning and doing what we can, but we are no longer sure of anything.

Putting the tangles of life into God's hands is easy. Leaving them there hasn't been. But when we just don't have any idea what's next, leaving them becomes imperative.

So we just go about our lives every day living in the moment and praying for God's direction to be clear. I say continue because I really believe He's giving us direction all the time. All we have to do is be thankful and listen. Soon the tangles will be sorted out, but like Corrie Ten Boom, we don't need the ticket until we are ready to get on the train. When the time comes for us to know--we will know.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

A Movie and Freedom

We saw "The Book of Eli" yesterday and it was as good as we thought it would be. True there's some language but not from Denzel's character. He fights back but doesn't start the violence.

The story concerns an apocalyptic world where one man tries to save the only existing Bible. One line he speaks gave me chills. It has to do with why there are no more Bibles. I'm seeing that same kind of thought becoming prevalent in some areas of our culture. The ACLU is championing this thought--that Christians should be shut up and not allowed to speak outside of their churches. That would only be the beginning of shutting us down completely.

A couple here is suing their next-door neighbors for smoking in their backyard. The smoke comes in through their vents and is causing them health issues. They installed large fans that blow the smoke away from their house, but that isn't working.

I'm not for smoking period, but where does my freedom end and yours begin? Yesterday a man came in and sat down three chairs away from us (at the doctor's office.) His odor, mostly smoking odor, was so strong that I had to sneeze and move away. Should I have asked him to move? Certainly not.

I don't like having to listen to loud music in cars next to me. Sounds that cause my car to vibrate because it's so loud. But should I outlaw all loud music? I think a sound law has been passed here but nothing is ever done about enforcing it.

Leaving a house isn't as easy as leaving a chair. Throwing a rock at the car with the loud music isn't an option. At least smoking has been banned inside restaurants and public buildings. But outside those places we usually have to walk through areas where people have been smoking.

Everywhere we go we will come in contact with things we don't like. Those who didn't like the Bible in the movie had destroyed all of them--or thought they had. Although there were no out in the open Bibles it didn't stop God from speaking. In the Old Testament we find that one prophet thought he was the only one. God had to tell him he had many more.

What is the kindest, most loving thing I can do when someone offends me? Instead of burying their freedom to do that thing, we need to do what Eli did--let God work it out and keep on the path He has set for us.

Monday, January 18, 2010


Funny how people see things so differently.

I've been intrigued by the film "The Book of Eli" since I saw the trailers several weeks ago. I know it's violent and has bad language but two facts about it stood out: the story is about a man trying to save the Bible and Denzel Washington is the star.

I've seen some of Denzel's films that have spiritual themes, like "Man on Fire." I believe he's a Christian man who is raising children to be believers. Would he go against his deep beliefs to make films that denigrate his faith? I don't see how a person can do that.

One of my blog friends saw Eli and recommended it. I plan for us to go see it this week (if everything works out.)Another friend, who is a believer, saw it but saw nothing good in it. She only saw the violence and heard the bad language.

Last night, at small group, I made a statement that evidently isn't believed by some in the group. (That happens A LOT!) One person wanted to get right into a sword fight (giving scriptures to back up his belief, then I would give a scripture to back up mine, etc.) I stopped him. We will never agree on this subject. I have reasons for my belief and he has reasons for his. As far as I was concerned we could just disagree and let it go. He didn't feel the same way and had to take me aside to press his point. Although I continued to tell him I wouldn't agree with him, he couldn't give up. He absolutely believes he is right and I'm wrong.

Now why can't we just disagree?

I've been where he is before and pressed my beliefs, not in a kind and gentle way either. I may still do it more than I want to, but in my own heart I just want to allow God, not me, to change people's minds if they need changing.

It's amazing how God created us each to be so different. We don't look alike and don't think alike. For that reason Paul tells us in Colossians 3 to "Bear with each other." The Amplified Bible puts it this way: "Be gentle and forbearing with one another, and, if one has a difference against another, readily pardoning each other; even as the Lord has freely forgiven you, so you must also forgive. And above all these put on love and enfold yourselves with the bond of perfectness (which binds everything together completely in ideal harmony.)

Once someone tells me they don't agree with me, is it up to me to change their mind? Only if it is a matter of life and death. Evidently the person last night considers his opinion that kind of matter. But once I hear someone say, "I don't agree with you and I have my own reasons for my belief," I need to back off. Even when I told this person some of the reasons for my belief (which I shouldn't have bothered to tell), he let me know my experience was probably false.

I wish I had been more loving in my past with people who disagreed with me, but that's done. I can regret it, but better yet, I can learn from it. My prayer is for this man to only hear from God Himself and not from any past judgements. That's the same prayer I pray for myself.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Following the Leader

I'm missing ladies Bible study class today for two reasons: I don't feel well and haven't since Monday but have pushed myself and too many chores to do around the house to keep it ready for realtors and their clients.

Our bodies can go for just so long then they tell us what to do. Yesterday my body said, "Enough!" I went to bed and slept three hours, which is unheard of for me. Last night was another meeting and I stayed home. I had planned to dust and clean bathrooms yesterday but since my body had other plans, I had to do it this morning working slowly and resting often.

I'm not complaining about the number of lookers we've had. I am surprised. I didn't think we'd have so many so early. But with God a person shouldn't ever be surprised.

The main reason I'm taking time to write this morning is to remind everyone to listen to your body and to realize "man makes his plans but the Lord directs his steps." I made my plan to clean yesterday and God directed my steps to bed! I liked that better than cleaning.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Selling, Changing, Thanking Jesus

I haven't sold a house since 1973 so this is almost a new experience: keeping everything in order, leaving the house with lights on and blinds open, smell good stuff sprayed around, looking lived in but not messy.

On top of that we've had to make some credit card changes. New numbers. New card sent several months ago that we never received. Hard to stay on top of all that and try to get the front gate painted in between realtor visits (thank you, Jesus!), take important papers to be shredded (maybe some day soon), go through boxes in the garage (we've done the house), and watch all the play-off football games (first things first.)

Yesterday I woke up with the beginnings of a head cold, which, I'm sure is nothing but stress detoxing. I'm managing to fight that pretty well.

Sunday we heard that we are citizens of Heaven and residents of earth. If I'm only a citizen of earth then I can't survive with all that we face down here.

The family thing is slightly better and again, I thank you, Jesus.

Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus--O, for faith to trust Him more.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Joy, Joy, Joy, Joy Down in My Heart

My heart is heavy this morning. But I must not give in to the heaviness.

Last Wednesday evening at one of our Bible studies, we discussed joy. Some of the people thought of joy as the same as happiness. I talked about the joy I had even after my husband died. I was grieving but I had a joy inside that was unexplainable. It came from knowing that God had hold of me.

Since that night I've read about the joy of the Lord and meditated on what it means. From James I read that we are to count it all joy when we fall into various trials. In my opinion most of the trials we fall into are those that threaten to steal away our faith and trust in God. We pray. Nothing happens. In fact, everything looks worse. That's a trial of my faith that God is still in control and is holding on to me.

James says the testing of that faith produces patience. The perfect work of patience is maturity. With patience's perfect work we lack nothing. NOTHING! Can you imagine lacking nothing?

Thursday and Friday--all day, meditating on the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart. Then comes the trial of my faith last night. My heart ached and fear threatened. Where was the joy? I've prayed about this situation so long and what seemed to be better suddenly was right back where it has been for years.

In the notes on James 1:2-4 the author writes, "The proper attitude in meeting adversity is to count it all joy, which is not an emotional reaction but a deliberate intelligent appriasal of the situation from God's perspective, viewing trials as a means of moral and spiritual growth. We do not rejoice in the trials themselves, but in their possible results. Trials serve as a discipline to purge faith of dross, stripping away what is false. Patience is not a passive resignation to adverse circumstances, but a positive steadfastness that bravely endures."

I spoke of this trial to a friend last night and he said, "What can you do about it?"
My response was true. "Nothing." I cannot change this situation except through prayer. And that I will continue to do.

I want to make it clear that God has not brought this situation on our family. He only uses it to strengthen all of us--to bring us to that perfect work of patience, faith and trust. What is more amazing about Him is that He knew it was coming and prepared me with His word.

The joy of being in the Saviour's arms upholds me. His joy strengthens me. Along with the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart, I have the peace that passes understanding down in my heart today.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Who is in Control?

With a move in our future, our life has been busy organizing, cleaning out and throwing away. We have to keep the house in order "just in case" all the time. In the past few days we've hit a rough place, and although we are sure the Lord is directing our steps there have been moments of doubt. Just how much is God really in control of our lives? We throw around the word sovereign and say we know that is God's main attribute, but what does that really mean in our lives?

We receive a preacher's email messages and when we received this one, it spoke to our spirits. I hope Russ doesn't mind me copying and printing it here, but I couldn't say what it any better. I hope you get a message from his "New Year. Who is in Control?"

Here we are in the first day of a new year and I'm not quite through with the old one. I tend to hold on to some things, like memories of the past week. Like many of you my wife and I planned a trip to be with our family and friends who live about 2,100 miles away. We left on schedule and after 2 days, had traveled less than half of the way home. We were confronted with snow, Ice, freezing rain and eventually a blizzard, before we decided to turn around and drive back to California. We made the trip with clear sky and dry roads almost all of the way, in one day.

As I have thought about what happened to us, I have wondered if God might have had a hand in our travel difficulties. Now I know how impossible it sounds to think that God might put a blizzard in place just for our benefit, but could he?

Then I remembered Paul in Act's 16:6-7 where we read, "Next Paul and Silas traveled through the area of Phrygia and Galatia, because the Holy Spirit had prevented them from preaching the word in the province of Asia at that time.
Then coming to the borders of Mysia, they headed north for the province of Bithynia, but again the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them to go there." (NLT)

I also thought of Jonah in the Jonah 1:4 where Jonah was headed in a direction God didn't want him to go. We read: "Then the LORD sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up." (NIV)

So, could God put a storm in our path to prevent us from going somewhere? I believe that he could. You might ask, "Would God cause something like that to happen when it might affect someone other than just me?" Think about this, "Was Jonah in the boat alone?" No, he wasn't. So, could God affect our physical lives in some way to cause us to do what he wants us to do? Yes, I believe he can. If you don't think so, why do you bother to pray for the sick, or those out of a job or for safe passage on some trip? Do we believe he will only touch our world when we specifically ask him to?

OK, here is the point! Much of our world looks to the New Year and makes plans for their future. We make "New Year's Resolutions," planning what changes or direction our lives will take. The trouble is that it may not be the things God has in mind for us. We forget that he is still in control of our world, not us, not the scientist, not the politicians; it is God who is in charge.

We were disappointed that we didn't get to make our planned trip to Ohio, but one passage of scripture keeps floating to the front of my mind. Do you remember what James writes in James 4:13-16? James writes: "Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit." How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog, it’s here a little while, then it’s gone. What you ought to say is, "If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that." Otherwise you are boasting about your own plans, and all such boasting is evil."

As you look to the New Year, don't forget to plan on God being involved with your life! If things don't go as you plan, maybe their going according to some plan that God has for your life.