29 April 2010

The Trouble With Embellishing History

The truth about things is always out there to be found. My friend, Turretinfan, posted an excellent series written by Tom Chantry about the importance of truth in reporting history. I hope you'll read his work whether or not you are familiar with the Ergun Caner debacle. It is a valuable lesson for us all.

I recommend you put both these blogs on your reading radar.

26 April 2010

When Dark Things Bump Your Soul

As a counselor I have determined that when God puts me in a position to teach on a subject it's a sure bet that the topic is going to be an area I most need some soul work. I have been studying fear and anxiety for the past several weeks and it has been invaluable to me, both in equipping me as a counselor and equipping me for life. You cannot study anxiety and fear without studying their remedy, grace. God's cleansing grace found only in Jesus' atoning sacrifice. The grace extended to believers on a moment by moment basis is the balm for our souls but we too often don't recognize it. We think deliverance from fear and anxiety should look like deliverance from trial and suffering and dark things that bump our souls.

"It is good to understand that Christ's service never did secure a man from all the ills that flesh is heir to and never will. If you are a believer, you must reckon on having your share of sickness and pain, of sorrow and tears, of losses and crosses, of deaths and bereavements, of partings and separations, of vexations and disappointments, so long as you are in the body. Christ never undertakes that you shall get to heaven without these. He has undertaken that all who come to Him shall have all things pertaining to life and godliness; but He has never undertaken that He will make them prosperous, or rich, or healthy and that death and sorrow shall never come to their family" J.C. Ryle

Anticipating suffering alone isn't going to keep you from fear and anxiety. It's likely to cause it. What we should do is expect the remedy without presumption and with great gratitude. Do you anticipate God's grace? I don't. I trust Christ to get my soul to heaven but figure he's leaving the details leading me there to my own devices. Oh, I read Future Grace by John Piper and it's a wonderful resource, but I too often forget the things I need to remember most. In his book, Running Scared, Ed Welch describes grace this way: "When you think about grace, your world is no longer one of fate, karma or a deistic passive god. The God of grace is very personal and active. He is especially attentive to those who are needy, and he delights is giving gifts and power to them." A little further down the page he has this gem: "To receive grace is to receive the Spirit, to receive the Spirit is to be given the kingdom of the Spirit; to receive the kingdom of the Spirit is to receive everything imaginable under the reign of King Jesus, including: love; joy; patience; gentleness; power to fight sin; adoption as God's children; goodness; freedom; power to serve others; self-control; faithfulness; presence of God; fruitfulness; no condemnation; promise of future perfection; peace, truth wisdom; the mind of God; unity; and life. "

Can I get an amen?

Philippians 4:6-9
6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things.
9 The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things; and the God of peace shall be with you.

20 April 2010

Considering Before

I remember being told to look both ways before crossing the road and so far it's worked out for me. I remember being told to look before I leap, but truthfully by the time I understood the all the applications for that idiom, I had bumped and bruised myself plenty. All in all though, that one has been a success too. I remember a cowboy teaching me about horses telling me that before a horse does something, it gets ready to do it and if you can read the signals you've got time to change his mind. That bit of advice has been one of the treasures of my life because my old cowboy friend's real secret was that the same principle works for people.

Before is a beautiful thing to understand. Before you are in trouble you can't get out of, before you are hurt, before you are sorry.... there's something you can do before you mess up to keep from messing up. Before is the ounce of prevention that's worth a pound of cure.

Before you were formed in the womb.... before you were born... foreknown.... predestined... set apart.... but why? His purpose. His kind intentions. Redemption, forgiveness- all before. Before despair, before discouragement, before guilt and before shame. Before creation, before the fall.... Jesus, the one in whom our hope is found. The Alpha and Omega. Our future hope secured in eternity past. What security we have when we understand the grace and mercy that anchors us before....

Jeremiah 1:5
5 "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations."

Romans 8:29-31
29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined {to become} conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren;
30 and whom He predestined, these He also called; and whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.
31 What then shall we say to these things? If God {is} for us, who {is} against us?

Ephesians 1:5-12
5 He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will,
6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.
7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace,
8 which He lavished upon us. In all wisdom and insight
9 He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him
10 with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, {that is} the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things upon the earth. In Him
11 also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will,
12 to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.

Hebrews 6:17-20
17 In the same way God, desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose, interposed with an oath,
18 in order that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we may have strong encouragement, we who have fled for refuge in laying hold of the hope set before us.
19 This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a {hope} both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil,
20 where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.

18 April 2010

Guilty of Being Comfortable

One of the pastors at my church has started a series on our responsibility to the poor. As I sit in a spare room that I call my office, typing on a laptop that has a 23" external monitor.... with lights on and a comfortable chair to sit in, I have to tell you that my guilt glands are swollen. Why? Here are some some statistics that are heartbreaking and mind blowing:

Right now, more than a billion people live and die in absolute poverty, trying to live off $1.00 a day.
There are another 2 billion people who live off of $2.00 a day.
Nearly half the world's population (that's over 3 billion) lives on less that $2.50 a day.
1.1 billion people do not have access to clean water.
Of the 2.2 billion children on the earth today, 1.1 billion of them live in abject poverty.
30,000 die each day due to poverty and preventable disease.
Every day there are 5 thousand who die due to diarrhea.... just because they didn't have access to clean water.

Those statistics were given to us tonight along with some interesting insights into what God expects of His people. Scott managed to completely blow my mind when he had us turn to Ezekiel 16:44-51.

Ezekiel 16:44-51
44 "Behold, everyone who quotes proverbs will quote {this} proverb concerning you, saying, 'Like mother, like daughter.'
45 "You are the daughter of your mother, who loathed her husband and children. You are also the sister of your sisters, who loathed their husbands and children. Your mother was a Hittite and your father an Amorite.
46 "Now your older sister is Samaria, who lives north of you with her daughters; and your younger sister, who lives south of you, is Sodom with her daughters.
47 "Yet you have not merely walked in their ways or done according to their abominations; but, as if that were too little, you acted more corruptly in all your conduct than they.
48 "As I live," declares the Lord GOD, "Sodom, your sister, and her daughters, have not done as you and your daughters have done.
49 "Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had arrogance, abundant food, and careless ease, but she did not help the poor and needy.
50 "Thus they were haughty and committed abominations before Me. Therefore I removed them when I saw {it.}
51 "Furthermore, Samaria did not commit half of your sins, for you have multiplied your abominations more than they. Thus you have made your sisters appear righteous by all your abominations which you have committed.

Did you catch that? Look at verse 49. "Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had arrogance, abundant food, and careless ease, but she did not help the poor and needy." Of all the things I could ask you about what Sodom did wrong.... would not taking care of the poor be one of the things on your list? But of all the indictments against them, this is the one that God points out. This is the most flagrant violation to bring to our attention? Where does that leave me? I complain about not being able to work yet God's provision for me is bountiful and my life would qualify as one of careless ease. Yikes.

I am thankful t be submitted to elders who aren't afraid to tell me the truth no matter how uncomfortable it makes me. But anyone can find your guilt glands and step on them, these men love our Lord and love me enough to show me the way out. I wait expectantly to learn more from Pastor Scott as he continues the series which will culminate in opportunities to put my faith into action and serve God by caring for the poor.

Proverbs 21:13
13 He who shuts his ear to the cry of the poor will also cry himself and not be answered.

Isaiah 3:14-15
14 The LORD enters into judgment with the elders and princes of His people, "It is you who have devoured the vineyard; the plunder of the poor is in your houses.
15 "What do you mean by crushing My people, and grinding the face of the poor?" Declares the Lord GOD of hosts.

14 April 2010

With Gratitude to God for Men Who Protect - Confessions of a Reformed Feminist

My neck and back pain have returned me to a physical terrorist...er.. therapist. If you've ever had an injury you know that physical therapy can leave you feeling like you've been hit by a fast moving truck. It gets better but you've got to work the injured part of your body the right way to help it heal from using it the wrong way. Last night I was not only sore but exceptionally tired. I almost went to bed without checking my email. Email, FB and text messaging are the ways I keep in contact with my kids who are 2400 miles away. My cell phone doesn't get good reception in my home so my kidlets use FB and email mostly.

As I blundered down the hallway I decided to take a quick look at my inbox. I am glad I did. My youngest had used her phone to text a message to me on FB. When I read it I was terrified. It seems she was headed to the library near the new city hall - which is in a bad part of her town. She doesn't drive so she was walking and near the city run park which has a baseball field on one side and basketball courts around the corner on the other side. As she was cutting through the parking lot and older man in a vehicle came driving up to her, rolled down his window and mumbled something. She thought he was asking for directions. She took a step closer to him- but thankfully remembered her training from her childhood and stayed well out of 'striking range.'

The man asked her, 'do you date?' and my kidlet (who is short, petite and could be mistaken for a child but is 26) says, 'NO!' With that she started looking for other people...but there were none around that she could see.... the man then starts getting out of his vehicle, "You SURE?" To which she says, "NO! I am a mom and have a boyfriend, get away from me!" The man kept coming toward her as she was backing away so she started screaming at the top of her lungs. Thankfully, there was a man with his family at the basketball courts. They heard her scream and the man came running my kidlet's defense. The creepy perv saw the guy running up, got in his vehicle and sped off. The hero continued chasing him on foot but of course couldn't catch him. The man who rescued her said the pervert has been there before looking for young girls. Apparently our hero frequents the park with wife and kids and said he has run the older man off more than once.

I am hugely grateful to my God for my kidlet's safety. I wish I could personally thank the man who did what men should do, protect women and children from bad things and bad men. I am also appreciative that this incident came on the heels of studying biblical manhood and womanhood. Don't get me wrong, I would be grateful to anyone for protecting my beloved kidlet and the mother of my ridiculously cute grandson. It's just that regular guys get so few opportunities to be leaders, protectors and everyday heroes to damsels in distress these days and when they do have the chance there's always some feminist there to bash them for doing it.

There was a time when I was a feminist to the nth degree. I saw men who tried to be chivalrous as chauvinists. I am so grateful that I see things differently now. I suppose there is an additional bit of irony in that the perpetrator in this story was an older man who happens to be white and the hero was a young man who happens to be black. I couldn't care less what color these guys were, one meant my beloved kidlet harm and the other acted like a real man and said, "Not while I am here!"

02 April 2010

Vitamin B12, My Drug of Choice

I went to the doctor yesterday. She asked me how I was feeling and I told her she ought to just take me out behind the building and shoot me. She told me that those weren't the plans she had for me. I handed her the list of complaints I had written out. I was afraid I would forget what it was that I wanted to consult with her about and apologized for having a list. You're fine, she assured me as she systematically went through the list.

"Let me see the new moles....ah, no worries we'll freeze those off." Whew! In my family cancer of every variety runs rampant. I also had a good report from mammography. Since my mother, aunt and both grandmothers had breast cancer that's a huge weight off my chest. Pun intended. Next on the list, remind me what are some of the bi-products of having pernicious anemia? "Mood swings, being emotional, loss of concentration, loss of cognitive abilities, loss of balance, loss of energy...." That's it! I am not making it through a whole month between shots of B12. Those around me notice it too. Then she told me that I could have my shots every two weeks. This is cause for rejoicing. I have been dragging around like I am wearing Jimmy Hoffa's shoes. Not to mention the loss of my sunny disposition......

By the end of my visit with her I had also received a shot of prednisone for my sciatica, an Rx for physical therapy, instructions to stop going to my gym of choice, continued encouragement to lose weight and a much better attitude. All of them were welcome, especially the shot for sciatica although it's sort of a trick. Whatever they give you to numb you from the burning effects of the prednisone is what really brings instant relief. The prednisone will take a while to work.

This morning I am wired for sound, have energy to clean, garden, cook, travel and quite possibly show Buzz Aldrin how to really cut a rug on Dancing With the Stars. Unfortunately I still have a body that can only do modified versions of these activities. However, having the 'want to' is a blessing all on its own. It struck me as I sat down to write this that my doctor's plans for me weren't any better than God's plans for me. Do you think if God wore a white lab coat and a stethoscope around his neck we would take his promises more seriously?

Jeremiah 29:11
11 'For I know the plans that I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.

James 1:25
25 But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the {law} of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man shall be blessed in what he does.

Zephaniah 3:14-15
14 Shout for joy, O daughter of Zion! Shout {in triumph,} O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all {your} heart, O daughter of Jerusalem!
15 The LORD has taken away {His} judgments against you, He has cleared away your enemies. The King of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst; you will fear disaster no more.