Sunday, March 31, 2013

What is Your Story?

One of my favorite contemporary Christian musical artists is Matthew West.

The Story of Your Life was released on October 5, 2010. The first radio single was "My Own Little World", and the second radio single from the album was "Strong Enough".   Matthew recently did a concert in my church, and I picked up this CD.  

During the concert, he told us how he was getting ready  to start working on his next CD when he decided that he was tired of writing stories about "his" life and put a call out on Facebook for people to send him "their" stories.  He was bombarded with stories from people about their lives, the problems, the blessings, the agony and the ecstasy, so to speak.  The whole CD is comprised of songs he wrote based on letters he received from people about their lives.   He also wrote a book about the project.   Every song on the CD speaks to my heart, but the song "The Story of Your Life" is an especially heart touching, encouraging song.   You can listen to the song HERE.

"Story Of Your Life"
Matthew West

Is this the end?
Or only the beginning?
The second chance
You never thought you'd get

The question is
Will you do something with it
Or spend your days
Lost in your regret

This is the story of your life
You decide
How the rest is gonna read
This is your chance between the lines
To redefine what kind of legacy you leave
This is the story of your life
And it's a story worth telling

Breathe in deep
Feel your heart still breathing
Let's go see the reason you're alive
Oh, you are here
and love is up to something
So take your fear
and leave it all behind

This is the story of your life
You decide
How the rest is gonna read
This is your chance between the lines
To redefine what kind of legacy you leave
This is the story of your life
And it's a story worth telling

This is the joy
And it's the pain
And all the pages in between
Your finest hour
Your weakest moment
It's where you've been
It's where you are
It's where you're going

This is the story of your life
You decide
How the rest is gonna read
This is your chance between the lines
To redefine the kind of legacy you leave
This is the story of your life
Go tell the story of your life
Cause it's a story worth telling
It's worth telling

Is this the end?
Or only the beginning?
And so that is where this Resurrection Sunday finds us.  Are we at the beginning or at the end?  The marvelous gift offered to us by God Almighty through His only begotten son, Jesus Christ, Y'eshua HaMasiach, is a 100% new beginning, a fresh start, a new life.  The Lord tells us in Matthew 11:28-30:
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.29Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.30For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."
This is the story of your life, and YOU get to decide how the rest is going to read.  Will you continue on in your own strength, messing up, blaming yourself, beating yourself up, putting your head down and butting up against the wall again and again and again.    ...or will you lay it all at the foot of the cross and let Him carry the burden for you?  Will you trust Him?  Will you let Him direct your life story the rest of the way? 
Romans 10: 9-17
    For if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved. 11 As the Scriptures tell us, "Anyone who believes in him will not be disappointed. " 12 Jew and Gentile are the same in this respect. They all have the same Lord, who generously gives his riches to all who ask for them. 13 For "Anyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." 14 But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? 15 And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? That is what the Scriptures mean when they say, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!" 16 But not everyone welcomes the Good News, for Isaiah the prophet said, "Lord, who has believed our message?" 17 Yet faith comes from listening to this message of good news -- the Good News about Christ.


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

A Faith that Endures

I believe that God created everything from the smallest of the small to the largest of the large and everything in between.  My God is greater than anything else that lives or moves or breathes on earth or in heaven.  God currently holds sway over the whole of creation, He always has and He always will. 

I realized one day when I was reading the book of Job that God IS in fact in control of EVERYTHING that happens on earth and in heaven.  Once I recognized that, I also recognized and came to acceptance of the fact that nothing is going to happen to me each and every day that God has not already given His stamp of approval to, and anything that does happen to me each and every day is a direct result of God either giving it to me (He's the giver of all good and perfect gifts) or He has allowed the Adversary to bring upon me.

Job 1: 6 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them. 7 The LORD said to Satan, "From where have you come?" Satan answered the LORD and said, "From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it." 8 And the LORD said to Satan, "Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?" 9 Then Satan answered the LORD and said, "Does Job fear God for no reason? 10 Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. 11 But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face." 12 And the LORD said to Satan, "Behold, all that he has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand." So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD.   

I used to think that just because God's ways are higher than ours, that there was no way to understand why God allows certain things to come into our lives.  However, as I am studying the book of James, I have learned that God allows tests and trials in our lives to perfect our faith in Him.
1:2 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;
1:3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.
1:4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.
1:5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.

The study I am using for the book of James was written by Kay Arthur of Precept Ministries.  In her weekly lecture, she tells the story of how silver is refined, how the silver is put into the fire and the impurities a/k/a "dross" come to the top and are removed from the silver, and then it is put again into a hot fire and more dross comes to the top and is removed and each time this happens, the reflection of the one doing the refining becomes more and more discernible and recognizable as the silver becomes more and more pure, and once all the impurities have been removed, the refiner sees his perfect reflection looking back at him from the silver. 

James 1:2-8 tells us that we are to count it as "joy" when we encounter trials because the testing of our faith produces steadfastness (also translated as perseverance,  patience and endurance).  Steadfastness, if we allow it to complete its work, will cause us to be perfect and complete (all our parts in place), lacking in nothing.  That's a pretty high calling...perfect and complete, lacking nothing; a state of being I can hardly contemplate. 

James 1:12 tells us that if we are steadfast through the trials and tribulations of this life that eventually we reach a state of approval whereupon we will receive a crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him.
1:12 Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.
It's hard, really hard, to put ourselves into Job's place and realize that when bad things come into our lives that God is allowing them to happen and that we are to be joyful about it.  It is hard to be humble and accepting of God's refining.  We just want to be accepted and loved and treated like we treat our pets, like good little people because we have believed in the gospel, but God wants more than that from us.  He wants us to shine like the brightest silver; He wants us to shine like the brightest light, He wants us to look like Him.

So everyday I get up, I read my Bible, I pray and I think, "Nothing is going to happen to me today that God does not want to happen", and you know what?  There is freedom in that.  It makes it so much easier to look a trial or a test in the face and realize that God wants me to sit still and know that He is God, He wants me to wait on Him, He wants me to acknowledge Him so that He can direct my path and He wants me to be steadfast - believing in Him for who is He, what He is and what He promises in His Word.   He is God.  He is good, and He has a plan for me; not to harm me, but to prosper me and re-make me in His image.  He promises to go before me and make a way for me to get through the trial.

When we can look at difficulties and trials  and tests that we encounter in this manner, well, at least for me, even the most difficult trials, the death of a loved one or the loss of one's health or job, can be endured in a much more accepting, even-tempered, faithful manner.   It is easier to keep the faith if you know that the trial or test is to build your faith. 

Plus, He promises to give you wisdom to know how to get through the trial and possibly why the trial was sent if you only ask Him in faith, believing that He will answer you.  And here's a scary thought, if you don't have faith, you might as well not ask because the one who asks without faith is double minded in all his ways, and should not expect to receiving anything from the Lord!

The farther I walk on this road to redemption, the more I know that we are so poor and little minded and yet we think we are so grand and able to do whatever we want.  We think we can sit down and say our little memorized, rote prayer, rote grace, list of thank yous and gee, haven't we done well today?  But God is a god of perfection.   He wants us to be perfect like He is perfect...thus, the trials.

I know that the trials of today are nothing like the trials of what is yet to come in this world that is quickly passing away, and so I pray that God would find me worthy of escaping the things that are coming, but should it be required, I ask that I would not love this life so much that I would bring shame to His name and myself if my life is required.   I pray that by His holy spirit I would make Him proud of me; that I would be steadfast and true and faithful to Him.

Lord, prepare me to be a sanctuary; pure and holy, tried and true;
With thanksgiving, I'll be a living sanctuary for You.

This is my prayer today.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Chavez, Ahmadinejad, "No Jesus", & Demoniacs

My last post contained links to various bloggers and my thoughts that we are approaching the end of this age.

Continuing in that theme, I would like to say a few short words about some news articles that caught my eye today.

First, I'm sure that anyone who reads any news at all has seen that the Dictator of Venezuela, Huga Chavez, has passed on to eternity.  Being born in the 1950's and growing up in the age of the "Cold War" with Communist Russia, et al, it is quite startling to me that the press corps of the United States is praising Hugo Chavez as though he were one of the great humanitarians and political figures of this era.  When did this happen?  When did press of the "land of the free and the brave" become supporters of Communisim?  I found this article to be quite humorous though in how Mr. Chavez did not want to die.  If I were a betting woman, I would bet that He was not quite settled about death and life in the hereafter.

Hugo Chavez Did Not Want to Die..He Sacrificed Himself for His Country

In the next eye-opening article, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, President of Iran (one of the most repressive governments in the world), Radical Islamist and hater of Christians, has stated that Mr. Chavez will be resurrected with Jesus.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Read it for yourself.

Iranian President - "Chavez Will Be Resurrected with Jesus"

Next in the lineup...The Seattle Times ran the following article which says that the City of Longview, Washington, (United States of America!!!) City Council has banned invoking the name of Jesus Christ in Council meetings.  Apparently the Mayor was advised by the City Attorney to enact removal of prayer and the use of Jesus' name in order to avoid being sued and costing the citizenry a lot of money. 

"Christ" Banned From Longview Invocation

The next two articles are from Orlando, Florida and New Britain, Connecticut.  Both are stories about individuals who are either fighting demons or fighting like demons. 

Lady Takes Baseball Bat to Church Statute in Fight Against the Devil


Man Goes Berserk With Ax At Dunkin' Donuts

and last but not least, a couple of articles about our country's leadership:

President Has Authority to Use Drones Against Americans on American Soil

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul's Filabuster Re President and Drones

and a couple about our country's economic situation:

The Last Time the Dow was Here

Wake Up America

Taken individually, one might shrug their shoulders and go on, but when read together and meditated upon and prayed about, it is very easy to see that we are living in a VERY troubled country!   It is very hard for me to verbalize how quickly and how dramatically life in the USA has changed in just 20 short years. I say 20 years because I can relate so well to that time period being an adult, above average intelligence, a successful independent contractor/Real Estate Sales Agent involved in the financial and business systems of the country and also as a wife, mother and believer and follower of Jesus Christ.

I saw how the internet changed the business world, I saw how families (including my own) were falling apart, I saw the church failing to preach the true gospel and instead of standing up for the things that Jesus taught, joining hands with the world and embracing the "prosperity" gospel, the "politically correct" position on sin such as "the way, the truth and the life", "there is only one way to the Father" and the veracity and accuracy of the Word of God...The Bible.

I saw adultery proliferate, dishonesty in business,  (especially) politics, and medicine/pharmacopia explode, homosexuality (which was only whispered about in my growing up years) became the latest "in thing" and liberals and hollywood adopted it as its next social crusade thanks to Ellen DeGeneres. 

I witnessed an alarming increase in the number of stories of mothers murdering their children, pedophilia grew so prevalent that I was advised as a real estate agent to advise my clients about Rachel's Law and as a mother had to become pro-active in knowing if there were any living around me.

...and music, well, music became rap and head banging music and "grunge" and alternative, and well, wouldn't we give anything just to go back to rock 'n roll? 

Yes, the 60s and 70s were filled with drugs, sex and rock 'n roll, but even in the worst situations, did it really come close to comparing with what we see today?  I've read stories about people having sex in the most unbelievable places, and just about weekly (and sometimes daily) there are stories about teachers (men and women) having sex with their students -- it's become commonplace.   Not to mention the drug wars in Columbia and Mexico being so severe that news reports often have stories of dismembered victims and mass murders/shootouts.

It boggles the imagination to think about what the next 20 years holds.  I, personally, do not wish to be around if what I imagine will be happening is IN FACT happening. 

I have sinned in my life (a lot and some really shameful things, in fact) and I am heartbreakingly aware of how dark and evil the human heart is and what evil it can perpetrate.  I often think of that old adage, "there but for the grace of God go I".  Reading the news today sat heavy upon me and it struck me again just how far removed from God the United States has become.  Surely, God,  who knows everything, has seen this (if my puny little human eyes can see it)  and if a nation has no loyalty to God, blasphemes His holy name and pushes Him out of its workings at every opportunity, it leaves me wondering just how long we have until something really horrific happens here as God removes His protective hand from a people who no longer want, need or seek Him.

My friends, as you read this, I pray that the Spirit of God is speaking to you, calling your name.  If you have not surrendered your life to Him, reach out; call out His name - Jesus, Yeshu'a, Yahweh, Alpha, Omega, Savior, Jehovah, The One True God - tell Him you believe in Him, that He came, lived and died for your sins, that He was resurrected and now sits at the right hand of God the Father.  Ask Him to forgive you and lead you and to give you His wisdom, and He who gives to all generously and without reproach is faithful to do as you have asked.  Then, follow Him for the rest of your days, as many or few of them as you may have. 

Time is passing away quickly and the days that are left here on this earth are not offering anything that satifies the human soul, only He, God Himself, can do that for He made you and me and when He did, He made a spot that nothing else can fill but Himself.   May God give you peace as we live through these dangerous, troubling times.