Sara's Musings

Home » 2014 » June

Monthly Archives: June 2014

Calendar

June 2014
S M T W T F S
« May   Jul »
1234567
891011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728
2930  

Blogs I Follow

The Presidents Club

Click pic for 2015 post on "The Presidents Club"

The Surest Defense Against Evil

Click pic for "The Surest Defense Against Evil"

The Triumph of Grace

Click pic for "The Triumph of Grace"

Contemplating God’s Sovereignty

Click pic for "Contemplating God's Sovereignty"

How Should We Then Live?

Click pic for "How Should We Then Live?

Not a Timid Christianity

Click pic for "Not a Timid Christianity"

Finishing the Race

Click pic for "Finishing the Race"

Because the Time is Near

Click pic for "Because the Time is Near"

Revelation Song (YouTube)

Click pic for "Revelation Song" sung by Phillips, Craig & Dean

Where The Wind Blows

Click pic for "Where The Wind Blows"

Doing Great Things

Click pic for "Doing Great Things"

Recognizing a False Prophet

Click pic for "Recognizing a False Prophet"

The Power of Forgiveness

Click pic for "The Power of Forgiveness"

Created for Relationships

Click pic for "Created for Relationships"

The Only Way I Know

Click pic for "The Only Way I Know"

Faith: The Misunderstood Doctrine

Click pic for "Faith: The Misunderstood Doctrine"

Our True Home Address

Click pic for "Our True Home Address

‘Tis the Season . . . for L-O-V-E

Click pic for "'Tis the Season . . . for LOVE"

The Paris Terrorist Attack and the Problem of Evil

Click pic for "The Paris Terrorist Attack and the Problem of Evil"

Cherry Picking 101

Click pic for "Cherry Picking 101"

Love Sweet Love

Click pic for "Love Sweet Love"

So Goes The Culture

Click pic for "So Goes The Culture"

Idols of the Heart

Click pic for "Idols of the Heart"

Divisions Are Not Always Bad

Click pic for "Divisions Are Not Always Bad"

The Resurrection of Jesus Christ

Click pic for "The Resurrection of Jesus Christ"

That Incredible Christian

tozerA couple of weeks ago I posted an article written by A.W. Tozer (1897-1963) titled, The Old Cross and the New,” originally published in 1946. As I stated in that post, Tozer’s writings read like front page news today, although some of the wording comes from the era in which he lived, yet he had an uncanny ability to see the future in the present day occurrences all around him. Many well known pastors today–Drs. Billy Graham, Charles Swindoll, and Charles Stanley to name a few–have often quoted Tozer as he still has much insight to offer us–even after being dead for over 51 years now (source here).

Today I ran across another article by Tozer in an earlier chapter in the same book, The Best of A.W. Tozer,” as the previous article I posted two weeks ago. This article is titled, That Incredible Christian.” The irony in reading this article was that just a couple of days ago I was talking with someone who described Christians as being like everybody else except that they are forgiven and going to heaven. This is not an uncommon belief among many Christians; however, it is one that has surfaced only in recent history over the past several decades. It’s not that this person was being trite in her description (no, she was very sincere); however, it tends towards a shallow view of Christianity, especially to non-Christians. And it doesn’t include the fact that Jesus Christ is calling his followers to be Disciples (see article titled, Give Up Your Weak Definition of Disciple” at “The Gospel Coalition), and not just merely expecting us to “coast along for the ride.” In fact, an article I read today in Charisma News titled, The Crisis of Biblical Illiteracy,” addresses part of the problem which is stated in the title (the article is available at this link).

Since the Tozer article, That Incredible Christian,” is available online, I’ve decided to let Tozer speak for himself on this topic and I’ve copied and pasted the article below. The article is available at this link and also at www.aztozerclassics.com. It is also included in the book titled, The Best of A.W. Tozer, Volume 1 (Chapter 20), compiled by Warren Wiersbe (originally published in 1978, republished in 2007), and is also available in a book titled, That Incredible Christian (Chapter 1) by Tozer at this link (and the book is also available online in PDF format at this link):

That Incredible Christian

The current effort of so many religious leaders to harmonize Christianity with science, philosophy and every natural and reasonable thing is, I believe, the result of failure to understand Christianity and, judging from what I have heard and read, failure to understand science and philosophy as well.

At the heart of the Christian system lies the cross of Christ with its divine paradox. The power of Christianity appears in its antipathy toward, never in its agreement with, the ways of fallen men. The truth of the cross is revealed in its contradictions. The witness of the church is most effective when she declares rather than explains, for the gospel is addressed not to reason but to faith. What can be proved requires no faith to accept. Faith rests upon the character of God, not upon the demonstrations of laboratory or logic.

The cross stands in bold opposition to the natural man. Its philosophy runs contrary to the processes of the unregenerate mind, so that Paul could say bluntly that the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness. To try to find a common ground between the message of the cross and man’s fallen reason is to try the impossible, and if persisted in must result in an impaired reason, a meaningless cross and a powerless Christianity. [There are shades of Bonhoeffer, a contemporary, in that last sentence.]

But let us bring the whole matter down from the uplands of theory and simply observe the true Christian as he puts into practice the teachings of Christ and His apostles. Note the contradictions:

The Christian believes that in Christ he has died, yet he is more alive than before and he fully expects to live forever. He walks on earth while seated in heaven and though born on earth he finds that after his conversion he is not at home here. Like the nighthawk, which in the air is the essence of grace and beauty but on the ground is awkward and ugly, so the Christian appears at his best in the heavenly places but does not fit well into the ways of the very society into which he was born.

The Christian soon learns that if he would be victorious as a son of heaven among men on earth he must not follow the common pattern of mankind, but rather the contrary. That he may be safe he puts himself in jeopardy; he loses his life to save it and is in danger of losing it if he attempts to preserve it. He goes down to get up. If he refuses to go down he is already down, but when he starts down he is on his way up.

He is strongest when he is weakest and weakest when he is strong. Though poor he has the power to make others rich, but when he becomes rich his ability to enrich others vanishes. He has most after he has given most away and has least when he possesses most.

He may be and often is highest when he feels lowest and most sinless when he is most conscious of sin. He is wisest when he knows that he knows not and knows least when he has acquired the greatest amount of knowledge. He sometimes does most by doing nothing and goes furthest when standing still. In heaviness he manages to rejoice and keeps his heart glad even in sorrow.

The paradoxical character of the Christian is revealed constantly. For instance, he believes that he is saved now, nevertheless he expects to be saved later and looks forward joyfully to future salvation. He fears God but is not afraid of Him. In God’s presence he feels overwhelmed and undone, yet there is nowhere he would rather be than in that presence. He knows that he has been cleansed from his sin, yet he is painfully conscious that in his flesh dwells no good thing.

He loves supremely One whom he has never seen, and though himself poor and lowly he talks familiarly with One who is King of all kings and Lord of all lords, and is aware of no incongruity in so doing. He feels that he is in his own right altogether less than nothing, yet he believes without question that he is the apple of God’s eye and that for him the Eternal Son became flesh and died on the cross of shame.

The Christian is a citizen of heaven and to that sacred citizenship he acknowledges first allegiance; yet he may love his earthly country with that intensity of devotion that caused John Knox to pray “O God, give me Scotland or I die.”

He cheerfully expects before long to enter that bright world above, but he is in no hurry to leave this world and is quite willing to await the summons of his Heavenly Father. And he is unable to understand why the critical unbeliever should condemn him for this; it all seems so natural and right in the circumstances that he sees nothing inconsistent about it.

The cross-carrying Christian, furthermore, is both a confirmed pessimist and an optimist the like of which is to be found nowhere else on earth.

When he looks at the cross he is a pessimist, for he knows that the same judgment that fell on the Lord of glory condemns in that one act all nature and all the world of men. He rejects every human hope out of Christ because he knows that man’s noblest effort is only dust building on dust.

Yet he is calmly, restfully optimistic. If the cross condemns the world the resurrection of Christ guarantees the ultimate triumph of good throughout the universe. Through Christ all will be well at last and the Christian waits the consummation. Incredible Christian!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this article by Tozer. He also wrote another article titled, The Waning Authority of Christ in the Churches which is also available at the same website–www.awtozerclassics.comat this link. I’ve decided to post a paragraph from the article to whet your appetite instead of making this article a new post:

Among the gospel churches Christ is now in fact little more than a beloved symbol. “All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name” is the church’s national anthem and the cross is her official flag, but in the week-by-week services of the church and the day-by-day conduct of her members someone else, not Christ, makes the decisions. Under proper circumstances Christ is allowed to say “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden” or “Let not your heart be troubled,” but when the speech is finished someone else takes over. Those in actual authority decide the moral standards of the church, as well as all objectives and all methods employed to achieve them. Because of long and meticulous organization it is now possible for the youngest pastor just out of seminary to have more actual authority in a church than Jesus Christ has. (Read the entire article at this link.)

tozerA quote from the website of A. W. Tozer Theological Seminary, established in October 2007 at Simpson University, states that Tozer “is widely regarded as one of the deepest theological thinkers of the 20th century. He is known worldwide for his prayer-bathed way of speaking pithy truth and introducing people to God. Tozer was a man of integrity. He lived simply, committed himself to lifelong learning, and drank deep from God’s Word . . . . Regarding his personal life, Tozer was the father of seven children and husband of one wife, Ada, to whom he was faithfully married for 45 years. While Tozer was a godly man of prayer, it is said that he was difficult to know. He had a gift for speaking and writing but sometimes he withheld his thoughts to the point that those around him felt pained. He could also speak harshly at times. He was apologetic about some of his criticisms and willing to model repentance, even though he was acclaimed.” (quote source here).

The writings of Tozer (over 30 books and many articles) are still very popular today and, as quoted on the Seminary’s website, “Even today God uses Tozer to soften human hearts and lead people into the holiness of joy. It is interesting to note that Tozer’s 30 books sell better posthumously than they did when he was alive. Two of his books, The Pursuit of God and The Knowledge of the Holy, have become Christian classics. Recorded sermons of A.W. Tozer are available as MP3 files at The Christian and Missionary Alliance Website. To learn more about A.W. Tozer, see Passion for God: The Spiritual Journey of A.W. Tozer (Lyle Dorsett), The Mystical Spirituality of A. W. Tozer Twentieth Century Protestant (Lynn E. Harris), and The Life of A.W. Tozer (James Snyder)” (quote source here).

I hope you enjoy Tozer’s writings as much as I do!!! I’ll end this post with a quote by Tozer from the Seminary’s website (quote source here):

The blight of the Church today is spiritual starvation.
People are famishing on rationalism, socialism,
sensationalism, on lifeless bonds and bank notes
and unwholesome pleasures. “Wherefore do ye
spend money for that which is not bread?
and your labour for that which satisfieth not?…
eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight
itself in fatness” (Isaiah 55:1-2).
Are you living on the bread of God
or starving while in the Father’s house
there is bread to spare?
~A.W. Tozer

 YouTube Video: “From the Inside Out” (2009) by Phillips, Craig and Dean:

Photo #1 credit here
Photo #2 credit here

Advertisements

Put a Little Love in Your Heart

Put a Little

love1in Your

Kindness is not an act its a lifestyle - 6-20-14

Inspirational-kindness-act-lifestyle

EmilysQuotes.Com-relationship-creature-animals-deserve-mistreated-abused

That includes humans, too!

inspirational-quote-act-of-kindness-aesop

Be kind

Cute puppy in red sweater - 6-19-14

Be kind and compassionate
to one another,
forgiving each other,
just as in Christ
God forgave you. 
~Ephesian 4:32

Just. Do. It.

Now would be a good time . . .

YouTube Video: “Put a Little Love in Your Heart” sung by Annie Lennox and Al Green:

Photo #1 credit here
Photo #2 credit here
Photo #3 credit
here
Photo #4 credit here
Photo #5 credit here
Photo #6 credit here
Photo #7 credit here
Photo #8 credit here
Photo #9 credit here

The Reciprocity of Forgiveness

Forgiveness is not often a two-way street. Ideally, when given, we hope for that response (e.g., reciprocity). And more often than not, we don’t receive it. Unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world. Not. Even. Close. In fact, many times at the core of anger is a spirit of unforgiveness,” usually stemming from very real circumstances that happen to us out of the blue that we, most likely, will never fully or partially understand.

I read a quote by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. last night that got me thinking about the subject of forgiveness again. It was quoted in the book, One Simple Act,” by Debbie Macomber, that I mentioned in my last blog post (titled, appropriate enough, One Simple Act). The quote is found on page 58 in her book and also at this link. Here’s the quote:

We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.

Debbie Macomber made the following statement after quoting the quote above: “I hope you caught these words: ‘develop and maintain the capacity.’ It sounds as if, according to Dr. King, forgiveness is a discipline that requires practice” (p. 58).

Well, after over five years of trying to deal with it, I have found that forgiveness is, indeed, a discipline that requires practice. And it requires us to both “develop and maintain the capacity to forgive” over and over and over again (e.g., “seventy times seven” as Jesus stated in Matthew 18:21-22). And I only know one Person who can give us what we need to be able to do it. That person is Jesus Christ. In fact, Jesus’ last words on forgiveness came when he was dying on the cross: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).

Most of the time, we really don’t know what we are doing, which is why forgiveness is so important. Oh, we think we know (we humans have an amazing capacity for excuse making, denial, and deceit), but ultimately, we really don’t know. We just go after what we want however we can get it and often regardless of the cost to others (e.g., whether it’s with those we know or those we don’t know well or at all). And yes, that includes some folks who consider themselves to be Christian as well as most everyone else nowadays.

While I’m not sure I have mentioned it in a previous blog post, I’ve never been able to get Texas out of my mind. Texas, and specifically Houston, is the place where the worst event of my life unfolded over five years ago, and it is that event that led me to start writing this blog back in July 2010. In fact, the theme of this blog stated at the top right hand side on the main page is “Living It Out . . . on WordPress.com.” Living what out, you ask? Living out my Christian faith in the midst of a massively trying circumstance–long term unemployment–and all of the ramifications that come from it. And the ride as been messy at times, just like life. And it’s still ongoing. But it’s become so much more than just that specific ride down the long and winding road of long term unemployment. It’s about how genuine Christianity is really supposed to be lived out in a messy world. And living it out gets messy, too. And we are all a part of it.

I have often written across these pages that it’s not an “us versus them” mentality that we so often have a tendency to come from (and mostly from a “self-preservation” point of view). Yes, evil exists, but just as Dr. King stated above, “There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.” We often fail to acknowledge any evil in ourselves while pointing fingers at the evil in others. And, we are great at justifying ourselves, too.

When I look back on what happened to me during those seven months I was employed in the worst job of my life in Houston, one thing I remember vividly at the time I was fired was what I felt when I was walking out of the building for that final time. I felt both a mixture of great relief and a sense of fear. The relief came because the horror of what happened to me there was finally over, and the fear came because I had just lost–as in immediately–both my job and income (not to mention the other benefits that come from full time employment) in a city and state that I had recently moved 1000 miles to work and live in seven months earlier.

Now before I go any further, this post is not about what happened to me at that job in Houston or even the fact that it has left me unemployed for over five years now. My story can be repeated innumerable times across America and in the rest of the working world around the globe, and countless others have worn those very same shoes that I was forced to wear at that time. As I stated in the first paragraph above, we will oftentimes never fully understand the circumstances behind what happened to us when we are hit full force with something we never saw coming at us in the first place. Had I known what I was walking into, I never would have gone in the first place. Neither would have any of the other folks who have experienced this particular trial or any other trial if they had known what was in store for them . . .

. . . And that’s exactly the point. We don’t know.

forgiveWe think that evil is “out there somewhere” and that we aren’t a part of it and therefore it can’t hurt us or we try our best to avoid it (and oh, the games we play trying to do that). However, world history tell us over and over again that that isn’t true, but we still think it won’t happen to us. And when it does we are shocked, hurt, angry, and unforgiving . . . .

“There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us.” Dr. King was absolutely right. There is some good in the folks who did that evil to me back then, and there is definitely some evil in me in the way I’ve reacted to what they did. I may never completely know why they did what they did to me. However, it’s the propensity for evil in me that makes it so hard to forgive them. I keep looking for some kind of justice from having been left unemployed for over five years now that keeps getting mixed up with the forgiveness part. And I’m disappointed in the fact that some of those folks called themselves Christian and yet they were anything but Christian in what they allowed to happened to me. I went there to do a good job for them and it just didn’t matter. Another agenda was playing out, and I wasn’t a part of it. And my career got derailed as a result.

Those last few sentences were painful to write. Therein lies the reason it’s been so hard to forgive them and have it “stick.” It’s not that I haven’t forgiven them many times over in the past five plus years, but I still live with the consequences of what happened to me at their hands to this very day.

The truth is this . . . I liked each and every one of those people who did that damage to me at that job. I liked what I saw in my boss and with the others, too, when I was interviewed for that job. And I loved the environment and was looking forward to being a part of it. In fact, I was never as excited about any job in my entire life as I was about that particular job when I was offered it. While I was driving the 1000-mile trip to Houston with a moving truck loaded with all my possessions following a few hours behind me, I couldn’t have been more excited about this brand new opportunity in a new city in another state that I was heading to on I-10. And I never had even the slightest clue that what was about to unfold over the next seven months was going to happen to me. And why would I? I had almost twenty years of successful professional work experience in the field at the time I was hired for that job.

When I think back on the good times I had while I worked there (with other folks who worked in the same building outside of my own department), I regret that it didn’t work out. That may seem odd considering what I went through, but I don’t easily give up on people or things. I wanted to make it work out in the best way possible. I gave it everything that I had. And I am not a quitter. But it was bigger than me, and it had been going on long before I showed up. And stuff like this happens in workplaces all over America. I just never thought it would happen to me.

I can’t get Texas out of my system because I’m looking for reciprocity. I’m looking for a “two-way street” on forgiveness. Maybe I’m asking for the moon.

I have never hated anyone involved in what happened to me at that job. In fact, I liked all of them. I probably would still like them if they had given or would still give me half a chance again. I know that in the business world there is this really horrible but often said phrase that goes like this (see article in Forbes at this link by someone else who hates it):

“It’s not personal, it’s business.”

Well, I feel much like Kathleen Kelly (Meg Ryan) in a scene between her and Joe Fox  (Tom Hanks) in the movie You’ve Got Mail (1998) after his mega-bookstore ends up putting her small children’s bookstore out of business (see YouTube clip of scene available here):

Joe Fox: It wasn’t… personal.

Kathleen Kelly: What is that supposed to mean? I am so sick of that. All that means is that it wasn’t personal to you. But it was personal to me. It’s *personal* to a lot of people. And what’s so wrong with being personal, anyway?

Joe Fox: Uh, nothing.

Kathleen Kelly: Whatever else anything is, it ought to begin by being personal. (Dialogue source here).

I totally agree. There are too many brutal ways that people get fired in America today. The movie, Up in the Air,” (2009) starring George Clooney as Ryan Bingham, a corporate downsizer,” has classic examples of that sort of brutality. And if you don’t believe me, just ask anyone who’s ever been pink slipped through no fault of their own. There are plenty of folks out there from the past decade who have experienced it.

Debbie Macomber quotes a poem written by Reinhold Niebuhr on page 61 in her book mentioned above that talks about tracing love back to it’s final form–forgiveness. It goes like this:

Nothing that is worth doing can be achieved in our lifetime; therefore we must be saved by hope. 

Nothing which is true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate context of history; therefore we must be saved by faith. 

Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone; therefore we must be saved by love. 

No virtuous act is quite as virtuous from the standpoint of our friend or foe as it is from our standpoint. Therefore we must be saved by the final form of love which is forgiveness.”

 Reinhold NiebuhrThe Irony of American History
    (quote source here)

My trips back to Texas are done for now. If someone wants to invite me to go back there, I’m certainly open to going back, but my trips taken by myself with the hope of some sort of reconciliation or even to look for employment (after all, I’ve heard Texas is THE place to look for employment opportunities) are done.

balloonsFor the past five plus years I’ve been trying to “develop and maintain the capacity to forgive” (as stated above by Dr. King). Truth is, if I were to run into my old boss or even the HR director or any of the others involved in my demise at that job in Houston, I’d invite them to lunch at my expense. While I’ve been unemployed all this time I wouldn’t trade the things I’ve learned over these past five plus years for a job paying five times (or even ten times) as much as they paid me. And what I have learned during this time has been worth every cent I didn’t make at the job I’ve never found since I was fired, and part of that “learning” has been written across the pages of my blog. And since truth is stranger than fiction, I have all of them to thank for that. We just never know where that silver lining is going to come from in the midst of difficult circumstances.

Offering forgiveness doesn’t come with any guarantees. That would be nice, but it doesn’t often happen. But when it does happen, it is truly a blessing for all parties concerned. However, even when it doesn’t happen and isn’t reciprocated, it is still a blessing to those who have learned to truly forgive others.

So if we’re in need of a lighter heart attitude . . .

Start with a check-up on who we haven’t forgiven . . .

And start there . . . .

YouTube Video: “Perfect World” by Huey Lewis and the News:

Photo #1 credit here
Photo #2 credit here
Photo #3 credit here

One Simple Act

Be kindA few days ago I was in one of my most favorite places in the world–a bookstore. Yes, it’s true that I’d rather buy books than clothes which anyone who knows me well can attest to since I’ve never been a fashion plate. Well, I tried to be once for three whole days when I was 21 but gave it up for comfy clothes. You know–the type of clothes that never go out of style, like sweats; however, I’m digressing, so back to the bookstore. . .

This particular store happens to be Books-A-Million, (also known as BAM) which I frequent quite often, and I finally decided to buy their Millionnaire’s Club Card membership card after receiving some cash for my birthday which was two weeks ago today. The card is renewed annually; however, I let my old card expire several years ago due to a tighter set of finances extending from my prolonged experience with long-term unemployment. Now that I have one in my possession again I can go wild with a 13-cent discount on a bagel that I frequently buy in Joe Mugg’s coffee shop. Oh, the possibilities. . .

The first place that I make a beeline for when entering BAM is the discount tables and shelves, of which there are many, and this particular day was no different. I love a good bargain, and I have found many over the years on discount tables in bookstores everywhere. And I happened to run into a book that piqued my interest, for $3.97, and with my newly acquired membership card I got it for $3.57. Such a deal!!! While the title caught my interest it was what was written on the inside flap of the front cover that captured my attention. It began with this statement:

“What if you, personally, could make the world a better place . . . by tomorrow?”

Well, I wanted to know! The book is titled: One Simple Act: Discovering the Power of Generosity (2009), by Debbie Macomber, who is “a best-selling author of over 150 romance novels and contemporary women’s fiction. Over 170 million copies of her books are in print throughout the world, and four have become made-for-TV-movies. Macomber was the inaugural winner of the fan-voted Quill Award for romance in 2005 and has been awarded both a Romance Writers of America RITA and a lifetime achievement award by the Romance Writers of America” (quote source here).

The book is a delightful blend of true stories and encouraging messages from Debbie Macomber’s life and also motivational messages from the Bible. As stated on the front flap cover, “You are about to discover, through true stories, what happens when we commit intentional acts of generosity. Lives are changed in ways we never envisioned. Come with Debbie late one evening through the checkout line at the grocery store. Visit a Midwestern train station. Discover the link between a submarine, a few bread crumbs, and some minnows. Visit ancient Galilee as a young boy volunteers his fishes and loaves to Jesus only to see his meager gift multiplied many times over to feed five thousand. Listen in on a touching phone call with an elderly widow. You will stand amazed at what God accomplishes when we make ourselves available through simple acts of generosity.”

Throughout these past five plus years of unemployment, I have always been one to give a word of encouragement or spend time listening to others and their stories as a way to encourage others in their own personal struggles, and also from the encouragement I often receive back from them even if they don’t realize they have given it back to me. My mother taught me at a very young age to always try to “put myself in other’s shoes” and while I have not always been successful at it (especially with those who are intentionally nasty to others for whatever reason), I have always cared about folks who are struggling and the “underdog” as I’ve often found myself wearing those very shoes.

I do know from my own personal struggle with long-term unemployment for over five years now and being placed on the sidelines of life that I could use a dose of encouragement from time to time, and this particular book hit the spot. In particular, there is a short section in Debbie Macomber’s book that really struck a cord with me. The section is found on pages 34-37:

Encouragement as an Antidote to Failure

I know how important encouragement is.

Twenty-five years ago, there was nothing I wanted more in the world than to become a published writer. I’ve told this story often, but it is so much a part of who I am, I need to repeat it. I had struggled for years, trying to stay at home to write and raise our children when what we desperately needed was for me to go out and find a paying job. Wayne worked two jobs so I could do that, working as an electrician days and teaching apprenticeship classes at night.

I had finally sold an anecdote to a magazine. When I heard that there would be a writer’s conference nearby and that two New York editors would be there, I took some of those precious dollars I had earned and registered. Writers were allowed to submit their manuscripts in advance. Ten of those manuscripts would be reviewed by the editors. New York editors!

When I was notified that my manuscript had been chosen as one of those ten to be reviewed, I could hardly contain my excitement. I told Wayne, “I just know I’m going to be successful. I’m really going to make it.”

When one of the editors walked up to the lectern to begin the critique of the manuscripts, the first thing she said was, “Out of the ten manuscripts we reviewed, only one showed real promise.”

It took everything I had not to jump up out of my seat and say, “That would be mine.”

It wasn’t. When the time came for her to talk about my manuscript she had the audience laughing over what she called the implausibility of my plot. She ripped the story to shreds. I was numb.

I’ve always been determined, however, so after the presentation, I went up to the editor and introduced myself. I told her I would revise, rewrite, do whatever it took to make the manuscript publishable.

I will never forget the look in her eyes as she leaned forward, pressed her hand on my arm, and said, “Honey, throw that manuscript away.”

Throw it away. I will never forget those words. Were it not for the never-flagging encouragement of my family, I might have taken that critique to heart and not only thrown that manuscript away but thrown my dream away as well.

My story has a happy ending. It wasn’t long after that I sold my very first book. Know what book it was? It was the same book I was told to throw away.

I love what Stephen King wrote in his book, “On Writing: “My wife made a crucial difference . . . If she had suggested that the time I spent writing stories . . . in the laundry room of our rented trailer . . . was wasted time, I think a lot of the heart would have gone out of me . . . Whenever I see a first novel dedicated to a wife (or a husband), I smile and think, “There’s someone who knows.” Writing is a lonely job. Having someone who believes in you makes a lot of difference. They don’t have to make speeches. Just believing is usually enough.”

I laughed when I heard a writer introduce her husband at a writing conference as her “patron of the arts.” Anyone who’s followed a dream to write knows that the financial rewards are few and far between, especially in the early years. A spouse who helps support the writer offers far more than words of encouragement.

I wish I could credit the anonymous person who compiled this list of “failures,” but I think it’s encouraging to share with anyone feeling frustrated by a lack of success:

~Einstein was four years old before he could speak.

~Isaac Newton did poorly in grade school and was considered “unpromising.”

~When Thomas Edison was a youngster, his teacher told him he was too stupid to learn anything. He was counseled to go into a field where he might succeed by virtue of his pleasant personality.

~F. W. Woolworth got a job in a dry goods store when he was twenty-one, but his boss would not permit him to wait on customers because he “didn’t have enough sense to close a sale.”

~Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team.

~A newspaper editor fired Walt Disney because he “lacked imagination and had no original ideas.”

~Winston Churchill failed the sixth grade and had to repeat it because he did not complete the tests that were required for promotion.

~Babe Ruth struck out 1,330 times, a major league record.

She notes the following on page 37 at the end of the section quoted above:

There’s another interesting thing that happens when we cultivate the habit of encouragement. Offering encouragement changes the encourager. The more we look to find ways to encourage others, the more we’ll find ourselves being encouraged. We have scientific data and studies proving this to be true. We understand that, like the loaves and fishes, it’s simply the miracle of multiplication. Let me say it again: The more we encourage, the more we are encouraged ourselves.

the army of the kindThis world of ours is full of critics, as Debbie Macomber noted in her story above when she first started writing and was told by an editor from New York to throw her manuscript away. And she didn’t. And it ended up becoming her first published book. She is now a “#1 New York Times bestselling author and one of today’s most popular writers with more than 170 million copies of her books in print worldwide” (quote source here). The lesson for us?

Don’t pay attention to the critics!!!

Critics are everywhere, and yes, even in our churches, work places, and other social settings, and even in our own families and among our own friends (after all, people are people and some people just don’t change–like critics). It’s easy to get discouraged with critics all around, but don’t listen to them and keep moving forward.

The Apostle Paul, who spent a fair amount of time in prison (due to spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ) throughout his 30 years of ministry after his conversion experience (click here for details), wrote these words of encouragement in Philippians 4:4-13 while he was in prison. Let them sink in:

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 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.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him [Christ] who gives me strength.

There isn’t a person living on the planet who doesn’t need encouragement from time to time. Too often when we are in need of encouragement we instead hear from the critics who seem to far outnumber the encouragers. Also, we need to strive to not be critics ourselves! It’s far too easy to criticize others (whether to their face or behind their backs), especially when we don’t know all (or any) of the facts, which is often the case.

Paul wrote in Romans 12:21 that we should “not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” And criticizing others, for the most part, is Just. Plain. Evil. In a few verses prior to this one, Paul stated: Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality” (Romans 12:9-12).

So let’s criticize less . . .

And encourage more . . .

And practice hospitality, too . . . .

YouTube Video: “My Wish” (2006) by Rascal Flatts:

Photo #1 credit here
Photo #2 credit here

 

The Old Cross and the New

The Old Cross and the New - AW TozerIt goes without saying that A.W. Tozer (1897-1963) was “considered by many to be a modern-day prophet. Tozer felt that the church was on a dangerous course towards compromising with ‘worldly’ concerns. In 1950, he was appointed editor of the Alliance Weekly magazine, now Alliance Life (alife), the official publication of The Alliance. In his first editorial, dated June 3, 1950, he wrote ‘It will cost something to walk slow in the parade of the ages, while excited men of time rush about confusing motion with progress. But it will pay in the long run, and the true Christian is not much interested in anything short of that. (Quote source here.)

Tozer’s writings read like front page news today, although some of the wording comes from the era in which he lived, yet he had an uncanny ability to see the future in the present day occurrences all around him. One of his articles titled, The Old Cross and the New,” “has been printed in virtually every English-speaking country in the world.” Written in 1946, it “first appeared in “The Alliance Witness[now known as Alliance Life or alife] and it still appears now and then in the religious press” (quote source here). The article (printed below) is available on the internet at this link and also at www.aztozerclassics.com and is also included in the book titled, The Best of A.W. Tozer, Volume 1 (Chapter 43), compiled by Warren Wiersbe (originally published in 1978, republished in 2007).

The Old Cross and the New

A.W. Tozer

All unannounced and mostly undetected there has come in modern times a new cross into popular evangelical circles. It is like the old cross, but different: the likenesses are superficial; the differences, fundamental.

From this new cross has sprung a new philosophy of the Christian life, and from that new philosophy has come a new evangelical technique–a new type of meeting and a new kind of preaching. This new evangelism employs the same language as the old, but its content is not the same and its emphasis not as before.

The old cross would have no truck with the world. For Adam’s proud flesh it meant the end of the journey. It carried into effect the sentence imposed by the law of Sinai. The new cross is not opposed to the human race; rather, it is a friendly pal and, if understood aright, it is the source of oceans of good clean fun and innocent enjoyment. It lets Adam live without interference. His life motivation is unchanged; he still lives for his own pleasure, only now he takes delight in singing choruses and watching religious movies instead of singing bawdy songs and drinking hard liquor. The accent is still on enjoyment, though the fun is now on a higher plane morally if not intellectually.

The new cross encourages a new and entirely different evangelistic approach. The evangelist does not demand abnegation of the old life before a new life can be received. He preaches not contrasts but similarities. He seeks to key into public interest by showing that Christianity makes no unpleasant demands; rather, it offers the same thing the world does, only on a higher level. Whatever the sin-mad world happens to be clamoring after at the moment is cleverly shown to be the very thing the gospel offers, only the religious product is better.

The new cross does not slay the sinner, it redirects him. It gears him into a cleaner and jollier way of living and saves his self-respect. To the self-assertive it says, “Come and assert yourself for Christ.” To the egotist it says, “Come and do your boasting in the Lord.” To the thrill seeker it says, “Come and enjoy the thrill of Christian fellowship.” The Christian message is slanted in the direction of the current vogue in order to make it acceptable to the public.

The philosophy back of this kind of thing may be sincere but its sincerity does not save it from being false. It is false because it is blind. It misses completely the whole meaning of the cross.

The old cross is a symbol of death. It stands for the abrupt, violent end of a human being. The man in Roman times who took up his cross and started down the road had already said goodbye to his friends. He was not coming back. He was going out to have it ended. The cross made no compromise, modified nothing, spared nothing; it slew all of the man, completely and for good. It did not try to keep on good terms with its victim. It struck cruel and hard, and when it had finished its work, the man was no more.

The race of Adam is under death sentence. There is no commutation and no escape. God cannot approve any of the fruits of sin, however innocent they may appear or beautiful to the eyes of men. God salvages the individual by liquidating him and then raising him again to newness of life.

That evangelism which draws friendly parallels between the ways of God and the ways of men is false to the Bible and cruel to the souls of its hearers. The faith of Christ does not parallel the world, it intersects it. In coming to Christ we do not bring our old life up onto a higher plane; we leave it at the cross. The corn of wheat must fall into the ground and die.

We who preach the gospel must not think of ourselves as public relations agents sent to establish good will between Christ and the world. We must not imagine ourselves commissioned to make Christ acceptable to big business, the press, the world of sports or modern education. We are not diplomats but prophets, and our message is not a compromise but an ultimatum.

God offers life, but not an improved old life. The life He offers is life out of death. It stands always on the far side of the cross. Whoever would possess it must pass under the rod. He must repudiate himself and concur in God’s just sentence against him.

What does this mean to the individual, the condemned man who would find life in Christ Jesus? How can this theology be translated into life? Simply, he must repent and believe. He must forsake his sins and then go on to forsake himself. Let him cover nothing, defend nothing, excuse nothing. Let him not seek to make terms with God, but let him bow his head before the stroke of God’s stern displeasure and acknowledge himself worthy to die.

Having done this let him gaze with simple trust upon the risen Saviour, and from Him will come life and rebirth and cleansing and power. The cross that ended the earthly life of Jesus now puts an end to the sinner; and the power that raised Christ from the dead now raises him to a new life along with Christ.

To any who may object to this or count it merely a narrow and private view of truth, let me say God has set His hallmark of approval upon this message from Paul’s day to the present. Whether stated in these exact words or not, this has been the content of all preaching that has brought life and power to the world through the centuries. The mystics, the reformers, the revivalists have put their emphasis here, and signs and wonders and mighty operations of the Holy Ghost gave witness to God’s approval.

Dare we, the heirs of such a legacy of power, tamper with the truth? Dare we with our stubby pencils erase the lines of the blueprint or alter the pattern shown us in the Mount? May God forbid. Let us preach the old cross and we will know the old power. (Source here and also at www.aztozerclassics.com.)

YouTube Video: “The Old Rugged Cross” sung by Johnny and June Carter Cash:

Photo credit here

The Coming of the Kingdom

the-kingdom-of-God-is-at-hand-Change-your-ways-and-believe-the-Good-NewsEnd times prophecy has been a major area of interest in the American church culture during most of my lifetime, and especially in the past four plus decades starting with Hal Lindsey’s book, The Late Great Planet Earth,” which I read at the time it was published back in 1970 when I was a mere 18 years of age. In fact, the book has remained popular over time and is still in print today. The following description of the book is taken from the order page on ChristianBook.com:

The impact of “The Late Great Planet Earth” cannot be overstated. The New York Times called it the “no. 1 non-fiction bestseller of the decade”. For Christians and non-Christians of the 1970s, Hal Lindsey’s blockbuster served as a wake-up call on events soon to come and events already unfolding – all leading up to the greatest event of all: the return of Jesus Christ. The years since have confirmed Lindsey’s insights into what biblical prophecy says about the times we live in. Whether you’re a church-going believer or someone who wouldn’t darken the door of a Christian institution, the Bible has much to tell you about the imminent future of this planet. In the midst of an out-of-control generation, it reveals a grand design that’s unfolding exactly according to plan. The rebirth of Israel. The threat of war in the Middle East. An increase in natural catastrophes. The revival of Satanism and witchcraft. These and other signs, foreseen by prophets from Moses to Jesus, portend the coming of an antichrist…of a war which will bring humanity to the brink of destruction…and of incredible deliverance for a desperate, dying planet.

Of the four views of the end times, Hal Lindsay and his book come from a dispensational premillennialism, pre-tribuation rapture point of view, which is still very popular today in many churches across the nation. While I read widely on end times prophecy in my younger years when it was a very popular topic in the church at large, I don’t keep up with any of the “end times” ministries in particular that have proliferated since that time. So, before you get bleary-eyed on me, this post is not about that particular view point or any of the other three views on the end times. Innumerable volumes have been written on this topic and I do not have either the theological training or desire to enter into that discussion. My point in mentioning this subject is to acknowledge the vast interest in end times eschatology in many church cultures today and to bring up the subject of “the coming kingdom of God” as described in Luke 17:20-37, which states:

“Once, on being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is in your midst.”

“Then he said to his disciples, “The time is coming when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, but you will not see it. People will tell you, ‘There he is!’ or ‘Here he is!’ Do not go running off after them. For the Son of Man in his day will be like the lightning, which flashes and lights up the sky from one end to the other. But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.

“Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man. People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all.

“It was the same in the days of Lot. People were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building. But the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all.

“It will be just like this on the day the Son of Man is revealed. On that day no one who is on the housetop, with possessions inside, should go down to get them. Likewise, no one in the field should go back for anything. Remember Lot’s wife! Whoever tries to keep their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life will preserve it. I tell you, on that night two people will be in one bed; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding grain together; one will be taken and the other left.”

“‘Where, Lord?’ they asked.

“He replied, ‘Where there is a dead body, there the vultures will gather.’”

There is a good, albeit lengthy, article/commentary on this passage titled, Sign-Seeking and the Coming of the Kingdom (Luke 17:20-37),” written by Bob Deffinbaugh on Bible.org. As noted in his article, the passage is broken down into five main points:

(1) The Pharisees and the Kingdom of God (vv. 20-21)
(2) The Disciples and the Kingdom of God (vv. 22-37)
(3) The danger of over-zealous expectation (vv. 22-25)
(4) The danger of worldly preoccupation (vv. 26-32)
(5) Summation (vv.33-37)

First off, while end times prophesy is usually centered around specific events the will occur leading up to the end of this current age and the second coming of Jesus Christ (a specific event), Jesus clearly stated to the Pharisees in vv. 20-21 that “The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is in your midst.” In other words, we cannot see it or point to it as the kingdom of God is in our midst (or as another version states, “the kingdom of God is within you” ~NKJV).

So what exactly is “the kingdom of God”? An excellent definition is found on GotQuestions.org and states the following:

The kingdom of God is the rule of an eternal sovereign God over all creatures and things (Psalm 103:19; Daniel 4:3). The kingdom of God is also the designation for the sphere of salvation entered into at the new birth (John 3:5-7), and is synonymous with the “kingdom of heaven.”

The kingdom of God embraces all created intelligence, both in heaven and earth that are willingly subject to the Lord and are in fellowship with Him. The kingdom of God is, therefore, universal in that it includes created angels and men. It is eternal, as God is eternal, and it is spiritual—found within all born-again believers. We enter the kingdom of God when we are born again, and we are then part of that kingdom for eternity. It is a relationship “born of the spirit” (John 3:5), and we have confident assurance that it is so because the Spirit bears witness with our spirits (Romans 8:16).

God is sovereign, omnipotent, omniscient and the ruler over all of His creation. However, the designation “the kingdom of God” compasses that realm which is subject to God and will be for eternity. The rest of creation will be destroyed. Only that which is part of the “kingdom of God” will remain (quote source here).

Repent Remember Return“We enter the kingdom of God when we are born again, and we are then part of that kingdom for eternity”. . . and, therefore, it becomes a part of who we are the moment we are born again (a definition of the term born again can be found at this link) and from that point on it is within us always. However, at the time of the second coming of Jesus Christ and his second physical appearance on earth, the kingdom of God will be established on the earth and he will rule and reign at that time (see Rev. 19:11-21; 20:1-6).

Jesus does warn us that as the end times approach, in both Luke 17:22-24 and also Matthew 24:4-8, not to be duped by false messiahs, and also that we would hear of wars and rumors of wars and not to be alarmed. And while current end times prophesies stress actual events going on all around us in this world, Jesus clearly states in Luke 17:26-35 that people on the earth at the time of the end will be going about living life much as they did at the time of Noah and Lot and totally unaware of the coming end when judgment and destruction hits:

“Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man. People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all.

“It was the same in the days of Lot. People were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building. But the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all.

“It will be just like this on the day the Son of Man is revealed. On that day no one who is on the housetop, with possessions inside, should go down to get them. Likewise, no one in the field should go back for anything. Remember Lot’s wife! Whoever tries to keep their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life will preserve it. I tell you, on that night two people will be in one bed; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding grain together; one will be taken and the other left.”

In a society such as ours that offers so many, many distractions that can divert our focus and attention on so many other things than Jesus Christ, we need to be alert to “the danger of worldly preoccupation” as Bob Deffinbaugh states in his article mentioned above, Sign-Seeking and the Coming of the Kingdom (Luke 17:20-37).” He makes the following statement (p. 10):

In both Noah’s day and in Lot’s, people were preoccupied with “living.” Life to them consisted of the earthly, temporal things which bring men pleasure, meaning, and joy. “Life,” as Jesus is using the term here, is not just one’s physical existence, but one’s source of meaning and significance. When people’s “lives” are caught up in the pursuits of living, they become insensitive to spiritual matters, and in particular to those warnings of the Scriptures and the saints concerning God’s coming and His judgment. The same spiritual dullness which unbelievers face because of their worldliness (finding their “life” in the world, in temporal things), Christians can experience (see Luke 21:34-36). Look at Lot and his family. Lot’s son-in-laws refused to leave Sodom, and thought Lot out of his mind. Lot himself was most reluctant to leave. While Lot’s wife left Sodom, her heart was still there, and thus she turned back to see all that she loved, her “life” going up in smoke. [See the result of her action and what happened to her in Genesis 19:26.]

One of the greatest dangers that faces those of us who are born-again believers in Jesus Christ is, as Bob Deffinbaugh’s writes in his conclusion to his article:

“. . . that of worldly preoccupations, which diminishes our desire for the kingdom, and dims our view of its reality, and dulls our desire for it to come. When our ‘life’ is found in Christ, and we can give up all else, all other things in which the world find ‘life’ then we will eagerly await His return, and we will work to hasten it. This is why Jesus has had so much to say about possessions. Possessions will possess us if we find our ‘life’ to be wrapped up with them. When we use our possessions to further the kingdom, then we lay up treasure in heaven, and we quicken our hearts toward heaven” (p. 13).

He also warns us of “a neatly packed definition of spirituality, with all kinds of external check points. [Much like the Pharisees] they think that by merely ‘following the program,’ [e.g. our own preconceived rules and definitions of what ‘spirituality’ looks and acts like] men will be spiritual, and that anyone who is not ‘in the program’ (whatever that program may be–and there are many programs) cannot be spiritual” (p. 13). He continues by stating:

“There are those as well whose desire to be godly and to sense God’s personal presence in their lives is so great that they lack stability and endurance. They are persistently chasing off after some new claim of spiritual vitality. They go to this church and then the next, the follow after one ‘spiritual’ leader after another. A misguided desire to be spiritual can be the source of many cultish pursuits. Spirituality, like the kingdom of God, will finally and fully come in time, when God has sovereignly determined it would, and in the way He has chosen. We should not seek to be ‘spiritual’ per se, but to be obedient and faithful to Him who both saves and sanctifies” (p. 13).

Whether our own spirituality becomes “stiff and programmed” (and leaves us judging others who don’t look and act just like us) or we care more about all the things–money, possessions, power, accolades, acquisitions, status, etc.–our society offers us (e.g., “the good life) while claiming all of these “external” things are primarily what God would have for us; we need to be on alert that we are on a downward slope that leads nowhere. This life in Christ is not about accumulating “stuff” or acting “spiritual” much like the Pharisees did (and they did both and totally missed the kingdom of God).

What makes us Christlike is not found in material possessions, money, accolades, or acting “spiritual.” What makes us Christlike in internal, not external. And it’s a matter of the heart, not the head or our own will and wants. The kingdom of God is within us, but we can squelch it out of existence if we live for ourselves and what we want and let anything or anyone else take the place of Jesus Christ in our lives. He is our Lord and Savior, and not the things we allow to take our attention away from him.

As Jesus stated, “Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man” (Luke 17:26). So . . . 

Will we spend our days seeking “the good life” . . .

Or following “the Giver of Life” . . . .

The choice is ours . . . .

YouTube Video: “Revelation Song” (2009) by Phillips, Craig and Dean:

Photo #1 credit here
Photo #2 credit here

The Triumph of Grace

Come boldly to the throne of Grace - Heb 4v16 - 6-2-14I have been a Christian since I was a young girl (age ten). Even during the years (and there were a bunch) when I was floundering around in my faith I never lost sight of my relationship with Jesus Christ. He has been the foundation and the Rock I have anchored my life to through all of the ups and downs in the course of my 62 years (as of two days ago when I celebrated my birthday) of living on this planet of ours.

Hebrews 4:16 (NKJV) states:

“Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace,
that we may obtain mercy and find grace
to help in time of need.”

I have to admit that most of the time I’m not so good at the “come boldly” part of that verse, not that I don’t pray. I do . . . a lot (and silently most of the time). But I’m learning more and more what it means to “come boldly.” And my boldness is still a bit on the timid side. That begs the question, “Can one be timidly bold?” Okay, maybe “timid” isn’t the right word . . . .

I read a devotion today on “A Daily Way” titled “The Triumph of Grace” (reblogged below) that reminded me that “God’s plan oftentimes has curves we never expected” and that “Waiting on God can be difficult at times. In our anxiousness to see Him move, we have a tendency to try and prod God along” (both quotes are from the reblogged post below).

Well, I have to admit I never saw the curve coming six years ago when I first applied for the job in Houston in May 2008 that I was hired for and started working at in September 2008 and then subsequently lost seven months later (and now over five years ago) in April 2009. And since that time I’ve done my share of “trying to prod God along” to get my life out of this limbo-land of unemployment I’ve been stuck in for way too long now, to absolutely no avail. I’ve also been known to beg a time or two (and plead, and stomp, and spit, too).

It’s not that God hasn’t been active in my life. In fact, He’s been extremely active. However, His activity in my life has not been in the ways I was hoping for, but in ways I couldn’t even begin to imagine before this trial of mine began over five years ago. Indeed, these past five years have become a living reality for me of what God has clearly stated in Isaiah 55:8-9:

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

waiting-295150This blog, originally started on July 20, 2010, has been part of that story. During this time I’ve also met and talked with a lot of folks and traveled, starting in May 2012, to many cities to include Atlanta, Houston, New Orleans, Washington DC, Biloxi, and cities all around Florida in my quest to find employment but also because I love taking road trips.

And I’m still unemployed . . . .

The urge to continue to “try and prod God along” is still there, but at this point in time I still can’t see the whole picture (not that I ever could). There are obviously pieces to this puzzle that I’m not aware of–pieces that still need to be put in place. The height of my activity during this time took place primarily in 2012 and 2013, and there has been an apparent “winding down” (from all of the traveling) since my move back to Orlando two months ago; however, I am still anxious to move on with my life . . . to get off “hold” and move forward again.

As the reblogged post below reminded me (in the last paragraph), especially regarding these past five plus years, “God does not let us venture into new territory alone. He prepares the hearts and minds of those we are to encounter on our journey so that the fullness of His plan becomes apparent in the aftermath.”

The definition of aftermath is “the period of time after a bad and usually destructive event; a second-growth crop” (source here). Losing my job in Houston over five years ago was the “destructive event” leading into “a second-growth crop,” at least in my particular circumstance. And I’ve been living in that aftermath ever since that day I lost my job. Now I’m waiting for “the fullness of His plan” to become apparent (as it’s been unfolding over these past five years).

So I continue to wait, but I’m a lot less timid and a little more bold then I was five years ago. God tells us to “come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).

Okay . . . I will!!!

Care to join me?

YouTube Video: This is one of my all time favorite worship songs (I’ve recently posted it on another blog post) titled “Revelation Song” sung by Phillips, Craig and Dean:

Click link for video: “Revelation Song

Photo #1 credit here
Photo #2 credit here

~see reblogged post from “The Daily Way” below~

The Daily Way

Reading about the apostles of the New Testament, our views can be skewed somewhat by knowing the entire timeline of their ministry. We read highlights and letters, dramatic bits and pieces of lives that proclaimed the resurrection of Jesus along with the power of the Gospel. The days, months, and years they spent waiting for God to do the impossible in a post-resurrection world seem but mere pauses in a flurry of God-orchestrated activity.

Regardless of the vision we may have for our lives or the direction we have been led by the Holy Spirit, we cannot expect to get ahead of God’s timeline. After Jesus left the earth, the disciples spent a substantial amount of time waiting for prayers to be answered as well as wondering when God was going to rescue them from dire situations. We, too, must be willing disciples, waiting patiently for God to work in…

View original post 173 more words

bonhoefferblog

Can Dietrich Bonhoeffer make a difference in twenty-first century preachers and preaching?

The Nerdy Lion

Lions can wear glasses too

natsab

Here I stand.

The Daniel Fast

Consecrate yourself unto the Lord through extended prayer and fasting.

Unshakable Hope

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)

It's a God thing...

Unpacking the baggage of life, love, and spirituality

drcristy

Dystopian Fiction Writer | Doctor | Wife | Mom

Reformedish

incompletely reformed thoughts on God, ministry, and life

lovelyseasonscomeandgo

This WordPress.com site is the bee's knees

Messianic Sabbath

A daily break in your day to celebrate our salvation in Yeshua (Jesus) and our abundant life through the Torah

For Such A Time As This

"...who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?" Esther 4:14

The Pursuit of God

Serious Topics for Serious Christians

Disciples of hope

Living the hope that comes from Christ

daily meditation

daily thoughts on scriptures

The Minstrel's Wife

A worship leader's missus and her views from the pew

From the Wisdom of our Founders

Important Quotations to Instruct and Inspire

Growing Forward

a blog for those seeking personal change for God's glory

The Old Guys

Quotes & Resources From... The Old Guys

Prime Reality Ministries

God is the Real Reality!

Flotsam and Jetsam

Random thoughts and commentaries on God's Word

Sara's Musings

Living It Out. . . on WordPress.com

Don Sweeting

Reflections on theology, worship, culture, history and the church

What's The Good Word?

Reflections on daily readings from the Scriptures

A DEVOTED LIFE

Practical Daily Devotions for the Real World

The Daily Way

A Daily Devotional from Dr. Michael Youssef

Jean Huang Photography - Los Angeles Custom Portraiture and Fine Art Photographer

"Transformational Beauty" "Maternity" "Newborn" "Children" "FineArt" Photography

Life in the Boomer Lane

Musings of a former hula hoop champion

Laura's Lens

Taking a look at the beauty around us

Perception

Photography. Life.

ILLUSTRATION AGE

THE ULTIMATE RESOURCE FOR ILLUSTRATORS

The Elliptical Saloon

Weblog for WhiteHouseMuseum.org

Thought For the Day

Bringing whatever stirs my heart

A Breath of Fresh Air

"Go out into the world uncorrupted, a breath of fresh air in this squalid and polluted society. Provide people with a glimpse of good living and of the living God." Philippians 2:15

Joel C. Rosenberg's Blog

Tracking events and trends in Israel, the U.S., Russia and throughout the Epicenter (the Middle East & North Africa)

ForeWords

Lectionary Musings within the Community of Christ

Of Dust & Kings

Empowering Faith. Transforming Culture.

A MINIATURE CLAY POT

"We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives" 2 Corinthians 4:7 The Message

gracefully50

On your birthday: count your candles, count your years, count your blessings.

lilies, sparrows and grass

"That I may publish with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of all thy wondrous works." Psalm 26:7

%d bloggers like this: