Thursday, November 29, 2012

Lifted Up

This blog posting is in response to week one of the Bible study on the book, Greater, by Pastor Steve Furtick.

Growing up, I had no one to look up to.
Unfortunate….but that is the way it was.

Once my parents had divorced, at the tender age of nine, my mother and I moved back to her home, where we lived with my grandparents for a period of time.
Although life was not easy for me back then, with all that had happened, I was very blessed to get to know my grandparents.
As it is written in the book,
“The president probably won’t release a statement calling us the greatest anything when we die…Nobody will post a blog entry about our lives…” pg 7
my grandparents were certainly not prominent people, but they had a great impact on my young life. Although I would not realize much of the wisdom imparted to me from them for years later, the few short years I had with them were precious and enlightening.

My grandparents, unlike my parents, lived lives that honored the Lord. I didn’t understand much of their ways, but I had a strange admiration for them. My grandmother was very strict. I recall one day when I was on the veranda shouting back and forth with the neighbor kid across the street. I must have been ten years of age. My grandma walked on to the porch and, without a word, grabbed a hold of my ear, and led me back into the house. That hurt!
Once safely inside, she simply said, “Young ladies don’t behave that way.”
I wasn’t used to being corrected….but I was used to being yelled at. She hadn’t yelled.
Who was this woman and why did she behave so differently?

My grandpa, dear sweet grandpa; he wouldn’t slap a fly if it sat on his nose. Having served in World War 1, he took no pleasure in any form of violence. He did not believe any child should ever be spanked. Grandpa was honored with a purple heart, but his heart remained broken throughout his life as he remembered lives of his friends lost in that war. Senseless war, he used to say. War is senseless. He loved to walk me…and sometimes my friends….down to the corner store where he would buy us penny candies, tootsie rolls, and such.

Grandma was the disciplinarian, and grandpa was the spoiler. They could switch those roles, and did, on necessary occasions, but that is generally who they were.

They always spoke of blessings from God; how He had watched over them…always. They spoke so many words to me that I would later learn were straight from the Bible.
Neither one spoke ill of others. Oh, how I wish I could say the same about me.

They would say the familiar old saying, “If you can’t speak anything well of someone, don’t say anything at all.”
They honored that saying.

I miss them both so much.
As I sit here typing this, tears are welling up in my eyes.
I learned a lot about love from those two wonderful people. They were people with faults; imperfections and sins. Still, they were people who left their mark, who mattered, maybe small in the world’s sense, but huge for their only granddaughter who had only them to make a vast difference in her life.

“Nobody will post a blog entry about our lives.”
Grandma and grandpa….I just did.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Money will Buy it...won't it?

While there are a variety of ways to respond to the issue of money, I would like to take this opportunity to share a small part of my testimony in light of this topic.

Not so many years ago, I was in a position of some considerable wealth. I lived in an executive style house, in the country, on an acre of land. This house boasted of four bathrooms, and a main floor family room with a floor to ceiling bricked fireplace. The eat-in kitchen was complete with a large bay window that overlooked the backyard and then the bush. The substantially sized foyer, formal living, and separate dining room, along with main floor laundry and powder room, completed the main floor of the house.
Upstairs were three bedrooms, a main four piece bathroom, and a semi finished games room. The master bedroom was enormous and boasted a huge bath area complete with two walk-in closets, oversized shower, two seater eight jet whirlpool, and separate toilet room.
If you are wondering where that fourth bathroom was….it was in the recreation room in the basement.

Our property was extensively landscaped. I found myself forever adding flower beds, shrubs, and trees to the property. There never seemed to be enough.
At one point, I asked myself ‘why’? While I enjoyed the beauty, I was tiring of the extra work. It made no sense as to why I continued to add to what was already on my plate.

Money seemed to be no object, so to continue to purchase plants and garden furniture should have been a joy.
We even redecorated the house. Our living room was stunning with its wallpaper wainscoting and wood trim. We had wood blinds custom made which completed the look!

Yes, we had it all…..and……I was miserable.

That’s all I can offer. I had money, and things were no different than they had been before I had money…with the exception of course that I could go on spending binges. But, those spending binges brought mere temporary happiness.

And when I say temporary….I mean temporary. Often, once a purchase had been made, I was already on to the next plan. ‘What to buy next?’
At the end of the day, I found myself still wanting. Every day I found myself wanting, with no end in sight.

There was an emptiness inside me that was not being filled. Furthermore, this emptiness would never be filled by anything money could buy, because money had no place here.
My soul longed for much more.

Some things are priceless; invaluable. You can’t put a price on them.
And that is where my answer…and yours…lives.

The many ‘things’ and all the ‘stuff’ we place such a high value on only disappoint at the end of the day. Without Jesus, we are poor no matter how much money we have.

It was around that time in my life I came to know and love Jesus. My emptiness began to be filled. It all started to make sense.
Then I began spending my money in Christian book stores and the like. LOL
…Yes, it is a process, isn’t it?

Now, I am content in Christ.

Don’t misunderstand me, I still spend money. Now, however, it is no longer my master, it does not control my days, it is merely there to cover the needs and some of the wants. And it helps to grow God’s kingdom.
Each Sunday and through various donations…it helps.
I am so grateful that money has found its rightful place in my heart. My prayer is that it finds that place for us all.

1 Timothy 6:9-11 (NIV)

Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.  For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

Monday, November 5, 2012

What is it about Grace?

Grace: the unmerited favor of God. It is undeserved; unearned; unjustified; unwarranted; and, many would utter, unfair.

We live in a world that is based on trade. You give me something, and in return, I give you something.

Even as small children, when we are taught to do chores, we are rewarded with an allowance; a payment for a job well done.

These trades, or payments, are often associated with money; something many of us value too dearly.

Let’s face it; rarely does a day go by where we are not involved in some sort of ‘trade.’ Whether it is through our purchase of groceries, gas, coffee at Starbucks or Tim Horton’s (dependent on where you live), parking fees, or just general mall shopping…daily we are bombarded with doing business...the business of trade.
Those who are gainfully employed, work for a wage. At the end of each week, a paycheck is handed out in compensation for duties performed.

We really can’t separate ourselves from ‘trade,’ can we?

Consequently, when it comes to our relationship with the Lord, we allow our trade agreements to greatly affect the way in which we relate to and with Him.

Truth is, God doesn’t work on a trade agreement. We know this, and yet we consistently adopt it into our relationship with Him.

We must remember, His thoughts are not our thoughts. His thoughts are high above ours.

Some may dispute that there is indeed a trading system with the Almighty.
He sent His sinless Son, Jesus, to the cross to die for our sins; He is our Savior. If we accept that and ask Jesus to be our Savior, our debt has been paid and we are now in the family of God. We inherit eternal life with Him.


Trade is based on some form of equality.
The love of God; the love of Jesus Christ, offers no common ground here.

When we open our Bibles, when we bow our heads in prayer….
As we relate to the Holiness of our God….
there is nothing, absolutely nothing, we bring with us that can ever compare.
There is nothing we can offer, nothing we can give.

What we must do is accept God’s grace based on who He is, and not on who we are.
When we do that, we will certainly find ourselves in a state of awe.

Once we are saved by the Grace of God, there are no trade offs, but there is verification of a truly transformed heart. There is evidence when one walks with the Lord.

Growing and maturing in our Christian walk is merely the evidence of a life lived by one who has chosen to believe in the truths of Scripture; to believe what God has spoken.

We have made the decision to follow Him instead of our old worldly ways. We have made the decision to kill off our flesh and, as difficult as it is, to love and forgive. These are evidences of our transformed heart. Not trade.

God loves you…that is why you are offered Grace.
Gladly receive the Grace God offers and be thankful each day that He made a way for us to return to Him.