Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Home is where the cat is

by Sydney Hauser

Relying on God

It's never a bad place in life
where we have to say to God,
"I can't get through this without You."
Be gracious to me, O God,
for man has trampled upon me;
Fighting all day long
he oppresses me.
My foes have trampled
upon me all day long,
For they are many who
fight proudly against me.

When I am afraid,
I will put my trust in You.
In God, whose word I praise,
In God I have put my trust;
I shall not be afraid.
What can mere man do to me?

All day long they distort my words;
All their thoughts are against me for evil.
They attack, they lurk,
They watch my steps,
As they have waited to take my life.
Because of wickedness,
cast them forth,
In anger put down the peoples, O God!

You have taken account of my wanderings;
Put my tears in Your bottle.
Are they not in Your book?
 Then my enemies will
turn back in the day when I call;

This I know, that God is for me.
 In God, whose word I praise,
In the Lord, whose word I praise,
In God I have put my trust,
I shall not be afraid.
What can man do to me?
Your vows are binding upon me, O God;
I will render thank offerings to You.
 For You have delivered my soul from death,
Indeed my feet from stumbling,
So that I may walk before God
In the light of the living.
Psalm 56


Sunday, January 27, 2013

Open the door

Jesus saying in Revelation 3:18-22...
"I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire
so that you may become rich,
and white garments so that you may clothe yourself,
and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed;
and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see.
Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline;
therefore be zealous and repent.
Behold, I stand at the door and knock;
if anyone hears My voice and opens the door,
I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.
He who overcomes,
I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne,
as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.
He who has an ear, let him hear
what the Spirit says to the churches.’”

Grief is the treatment, grief is the cure!

Good Grief: 5 ways your mourning can glorify God

1. Resist the temptation to be angry at God.

It is natural for mourners to experience a sense of indignation, even rage, at the loss of a loved one. This, I believe, is our soul’s normal response to the Curse. We recognize deep within us that death is unnatural, and everything in us cries out for justice and for death to just stop its devastation. The problem is that most people are theologically ill-prepared for the onslaught of these emotions.

Their anger can at that time be misdirected. People who are smarting from the pangs of the fresh wounds of loss, may be tempted to mistakenly direct their indignation at God. They will often say, something like, “I’m so angry at God right now I can’t even pray.”

I say “tempted” because anger at God is always a sin.

”The anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”
James 1:20

God never sins, and He never does anything unjust. Anger is a right response to an assault on God’s glory (as when Jesus cleansed the Temple). But to be angry at God is to aim your guns at a friend instead of the enemy. In  a time of emotional trauma, believers sometimes need to be reminded to resist the temptation to think wrongly about their loving Savior.

2. Rest in God’s sovereignty.

When death comes in an especially unexpected way, for example in a sudden accident, or in cases where a young child is suddenly taken, there is always a sense that this was not meant to be. We are left reeling at the ambush of fate. This sensation of being caught off guard can sometimes lead us to feel as if God was also surprised. Since He didn’t provide us with warning or prep time, as when we are diagnosed with a terminal illness and supplied with a prognosis of time, we may feel as if the loss was incidental.

But the Bible assures us that God is absolutely sovereign over life and death. He is never caught off guard, He is never surprised at events; no, God ordains everything to the minutest detail. This is  truth that brings peace and rest to a heart that is staggering under the dizzying sucker-punch of sudden loss.

“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.”
Matthew 10:29-31

This is a precious and profound reality that needs to be impressed on the grieving heart.

3.Realize that it’s good to grieve.

In this day of Prozac and over-the-counter anti-depressant oblivion being proffered by an over-eager medical community, we need to be reminded that the pain felt in mourning is normal. Grief is not a condition that needs to be treated. Grief is not a disease that needs to be cured.

Grief is the treatment, grief is the cure!

God equipped us with the emotion of sadness in the same way that He gave us physical pain. He wants us to feel when things are wrong so that we can do something about it. When you feel a sting in your skin you look and see a kamikaze bee injecting poison into you. You don’t take a pain killer to forget about the bee. You address the sting.
When His friend Lazarus died, “Jesus wept” (John 11:35). He was known as a “Man of sorrows, acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3). Jesus did not avoid sadness, because it’s not wrong to grieve.

To numb the pain only prolongs the recover period. I tell people I counsel in these dark times to cry their hearts out if that’s what they feel. Sometimes you just need a box of tissues, a tub of ice cream, a dark room, and some Enya in the background, so you can have a really good cry. The catharsis is a gift from God. And most people would testify that the more the allow themselves to weep, the less frequent, and less intense the breakdowns become, until eventually they are only very occasional.

4.Rejoice in the hope of reuniting.

This is a joy that can only be appreciated by Christians who have lost loved ones who are in Christ. One of the sweet joys of Heaven is not only seeing our Savior face to face, but also being reunited with our brothers and sisters in Christ who have crossed Jordan ahead of us.

”But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.”
1 Thessalonians 4:13-14

We see King David comforted by this truth when his infant son died. He confidently asserted that “He cannot come back to me but I shall go to him” (2 Samuel 12:20-23).
This is the silver lining we must draw our friends’ attention toward as they are overshadowed by the storm clouds of loss.

5.Reach out to others.

Though it seems callous to tell a mourner to think of others rather than themselves, it is a unique opportunity for the hurting to be healed by ministering to others who are hurting too.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. “
2 Corinthians  1:3-5

There is a sense in which the only people who can comfort those who have lost a child, or parent, or best friend, are those who have walked the same stark path through the arid valley of death. Everyone else offers platitude that sound trite in the ear of the grieving one. But comfort that stems from genuine empathy is an elixir of healing in what otherwise is a very lonely time.

One thing I’m sure all believers agree on is: without Christ in our lives, death would be impossible to face. I love the Apostle Paul’s triumphant reminder:

When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?’ The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. ”
1 Corinthians 15:54-55

HT Clint Archer, The Cripplegate

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Blessed by the ordinary

My maids were doing the laundry today ~ my washer and dryer.     As I helped them ~ transfer the laundry to the dryer ~ I was struck by how blessed I am.

Even when we were first married with no “maids” of our own, we were able to go together to the laundromat to have their maids do it for us.

For over thirty years I have had my faithful maids as they changed hands to younger ones, but relentlessly doing all our dirty laundry, drying, and even felting wool sweaters on purpose, or even by accident!

Each time as the laundry cycles would be completed, they would give the clean clothes over to me.   It began as simple as the first small home we lived in where the piles would add up in the middle of the living room floor.    From that moment on tradition reigned and every living room has had its purpose of pile after pile of laundry which would wait to be folded.

As my little ones would grow, their first jobs would be to fold the wash cloths.   I will never forget the joy they had, and also gave me, as I watched them glory in helping mommy.   Days, weeks, months, years of folding laundry many times a week in the middle of the living room pass before my mind's eye now.

These days the piles aren’t so big nor so often, but they do add up and still need folded ~ those persnickety maids never will do that for me.   It has usually been in the evening when the folding begins.   A quiet, calm time to fold and then take the organized piles to their specific places.

This past autumn, though, the little girl kitty finds my lap inviting before I can sit on the floor and fold.   She has lost both of her kitty brothers within two years ~ or it just seems so ~ and needs her "momma" time when she says so.   Soon enough my Beloved enters the room with me and little girl kitty both snuggled in the chair with the pile of laundry looming in the foreground, but now completely forgotten by me with such a sweet creature snuggled contentedly next to me.

So tradition has morphed into the girls watching as my Beloved sits and folds the laundry, sweetly, quietly, calmly. 

I am so very blessed.  Thank you, my Great God and King!  

Ooops! There goes the buzzer again!  And the maids are finished ~ time for the first pile!

Lord, you have assigned me my portion and my cup;
you have made my lot secure.

The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
surely I have a delightful inheritance.

I will praise the Lord, who counsels me;
even at night my heart instructs me.
 I have set the Lord always before me.
Because He is at my right hand,
I will not be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
my body also will rest secure,
because you will not abandon me to the grave,
nor will you let your Holy One see decay.
You have made known to me the path of life;
    You will fill me with joy in Your presence,
with eternal pleasures at Your right hand.
Psalm 16: 5-11

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Will you be devoured?

Thanks to Julia, at Steak and a Bible for Why I Contend 

...Honestly, if it weren’t for my mother and her willingness to stand for truth this blog probably wouldn’t exist. 

I thank God that from a young age I saw her challenge leadership whenever it was necessary and right. Perhaps she didn’t always do it perfectly, and it is unlikely that I always will, but her courage is an enduring example to me. 

It was because of her that I finally came to understand the problems of the church growth movement, and began to see the dangers of the emergent church...

... I contend because I had to leave a church after spending more than a year there growing and making friends and finding a community of believers once I realized it was too far gone and my pleadings were falling on deaf ears. Because once I left it took me years to find a church, and visiting churches was an exercise in perpetual discouragement. 

I share my concerns in the hope that I’ll still have a church to go to when I’m 35, or 50 or 80...

Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

1Peter 5:8

I'm kind of an Apologist

I've been married to an apologist for over 30 years.  He is my very own Bible Answer Man.     It has been in these years where I have begun to realize that some of his vocabulary, his knowledge, and expertise has rubbed off on me~~~or stuck on me.

The other day when talking with a dear friend, she commented, "Where did you learn all these big, fancy words?"

I kind of shrugged my shoulders, as I know I have forgotten almost everything I ever learned in Kindergarten, and said, "I hang around Glenn."  She understood immediately since she is a Facebook friend of his.

As I give you this link to Sola Sisters, I will say how I understand exactly what they are expressing.  Here is a snippet, but please check out their whole post called Why We Contend.

My sister and I have often lamented the fact that we have had friends separate from us over what they perceive to be as an unloving and judgmental attitude that we have about false teaching/false teachers. 

Our opinion? These precious (but undiscerning) women who have children who are growing up (as we do), will in all likelihood have children who go off to college, get handed a Rob Bell book by one of their "Christian" friends, and these young men/women who have been given NO doctrinal training about what false teaching is (but have instead been given a strong dose of "Judge not!") will come home at Thanksgiving break as Universalists. And their horrified mothers (our former friends) will wonder how on earth this could have happened. ...

"Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up." Deut 11:18-19

Friends, do you not realize that it is a war out there? 

It's a spiritual battle, and we need to be suited up. Spiritual warfare is not puffing up your chest, and claiming the ability to name and rebuke demons (the "demon of fear," the "demon of unbelief," etc.) 

No, true spiritual warfare is fighting with biblical truth against these false and worldly ideologies that are just waiting to take your children's minds captive when they go out into the world...

"See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ." Col 2:8 

HT The Watchman's Bagpipes