Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Splinter

After two days of having a sensitive spot on my hand, I finally checked and realized it was a splinter.  Since it was so late when I noticed, I decided to take care of it first thing the next morning.  You could see the dark speck but almost needed a magnifying glass to make sure all of it was in sight.  Even though it was tiny, it was still causing discomfort.
Larry worked to remove the splinter and then I decided that if it was hurting that badly I needed to take over and have a break when I needed it.  Although 99.99% of my hand was fine, that 0.01% had my full attention.  It was obvious that if I wanted the discomfort of the splinter in my hand relieved then I needed to be willing to put up with a little extra pain for the desired result.  Once the splinter was successfully removed, there was relief and I immediately made sure the skin was thoroughly cleansed.  The hand was pampered and protected so that the tiny spot had the best chance to heal completely. 
I’ve thought about that splinter this week and how it, in a way, parallels sin in my life.
* Even though I may not know the source immediately, I know and feel the irritation and discomfort when things are not as they should be.
* I need to be intentional about discovering what is not right.
* When the sin is identified, I don’t need to wait until the next morning or a later time to deal with it.
* 99.99% can be going well, but my sin will be the focus until it is confessed and forgiven.
* I need to have a plan and implement it.
* Even though there is initial pain with sin, sometimes the pain and remorse increases before it can be better.
* Once the “sin” has been removed, it is important to make sure the source has been cleaned out and stays that way.
* I need to protect myself and be on the alert to keep that from happening again.
* There is relief, hope, and cleansing when forgiveness occurs.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
I John 1:9

Saturday, July 20, 2013

When the Alarm Sounds

There are several different alarms to which I respond.  Every night I set the alarm on my clock for the hour that I need to wake up the next morning.  I have alarms set on my phone to remind me of important things I need to remember to do.  Even the microwave and dryer have buzzers that remind me that food and clothes need my attention.
Early last Wednesday morning, another alarm shrilled throughout the house that called for my attention.  As if he couldn’t hear it, I wanted to make sure Larry knew that the smoke detector was going off.  After assessing the situation, and seeing that there was no smoke or fire, he immediately knew that the battery on the detector was running low.  After changing the battery, the detector was once again silent.  I’m so grateful that Larry was still home that morning and knew exactly what to do.
It’s good to set and hear alarms, but what makes a difference is how I respond to them.  I can either get up when my alarm goes off each morning or I can hit the snooze button a few times before starting the day.  When I respond to the alarms on my phone, I am keeping up with an important schedule for my health; otherwise I pay the price for not functioning at my best.  The microwave beeps remind me that the food is ready.  If that part of the meal is forgotten, it’s not too appetizing later on.  When the buzzer on the dryer announces the end of the cycle, if I remove the clothes immediately they most likely will not have to be ironed.  As if it could be ignored, responding appropriately to the smoke detector has the potential to save our home and lives from fire.  Low battery or not, it needs my full attention to assess what is needed.
With all that has been going on in our city, state, country, and world these days, it seems as if alarms are going off all around us.  Sometimes we choose to hit the snooze button, some alarms we ignore or wait until later to deal with, while others are at the emergency level and need to be dealt with immediately.  During these days, may we be willing to have eyes, ears, and hearts that help us know how and when to respond and make a difference for God’s kingdom.  May He find us faithful.
Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day.
Deuteronomy 8:11
if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place.
2 Chronicles 7:14-15
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.
James 1:22-25

Saturday, July 13, 2013

As You Go

On July 5th, 4 teams of Tallowood’s high school students and sponsors left in vans to begin their summer mission trip.  Like other mission trips, they have spent months planning for the week of ministry.  In preparation, the students and adults have prayed, read the book of Acts, read Francis Chan’s book The Forgotten God, memorized Ephesians 6:10-20, attended 5 training sessions, and prayed some more.  Unlike other trips, they did not know the exact location for their week of ministry, other than they would be in New Mexico.  From the beginning of the training, they were to pray and ask God to lead them to where he wanted them to be for the week.  With a map of New Mexico in front of them, they were to pray, be prepared, trust God’s Spirit to lead them, and go in obedience.
The teams didn’t even make it out of town before one van load stopped to help a couple fix a flat tire.  As they were going, they prayed with and for waiters, waitresses, and cashiers, bought an extra hamburger to give to a man, helped a couple pack up their tent and supplies, and shared their love for Jesus all along the way.  One group prayer walked around a fireman’s house that had burned down.  They even bought supplies and participated in a fund raiser for the fireman.  The groups have shown us that ministry is what happens as you go and not just at the final destination.
Each group felt God leading them to a different destination – Albuquerque, Clovis, Portales, Santa Rosa and surrounding areas.  They spent the week ministering wherever they went – while eating; visiting with people in the park, on the street, at a skateboard park, or at campgrounds; at churches for youth activities; Vacation Bible School for kids, youth, and adults; participating in projects for the church; impromptu concerts in the park and town square; giving away cold water on a hot day; at an orphanage where they helped move kids from one cottage to another, weeded, baled hay, cleaned steers, painted, helped with scrapbooking, and ministered to the kids and adults; at youth events; at a church softball game; and at a homeless mission where they helped move beds, set up a soup kitchen, and organized the store.  And those are just some of the ways they ministered during the week.  Because they were willing to go to the people, others were blessed this week.
On Thursday, the groups met together for a time of retreat and sharing at Glorieta and then they will begin their return home today.  They have experienced the joy of ministry as a group as well as individually this week.  My prayer is that this will not be the end of the mission trip for these youth and adults, but rather the beginning of a new chapter on their life’s journey as they continue to live out what they’ve experienced
*Living by faith
*Trusting God
*Listening for His voice
*Living in Obedience
whether they are in Houston, a city in New Mexico, or anywhere else in the world.
 This week as I’ve prayed and read the blog about the groups each day, I’ve been encouraged and challenged.  I’ve wondered how the people responded to a group of believers who showed up to help because they are followers of Jesus.  Some people who received help were believers, who may have even prayed about their need, while many others who were blessed aren’t believers yet.  How many were overwhelmed or challenged with their situation and because some believers went in obedience they received help and hope during these days?  How many went about the rest of their day with purpose and joy after encountering the love of Jesus in our youth and adults?  I’ve also wondered what it would look like if I took seriously Jesus’ command that as I go I am to love and minister to others and make disciples of all nations.  What if all Christians did?
18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  Matthew 28:18-20

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Intentionally Listening

What a joy to be around children who are learning how to communicate.  With three grandchildren, at various ages and stages, I am having lots of opportunities to intentionally listen these days.  Ryen coos, Mary expresses herself by babbling, and David is talking in complete sentences and paragraphs.  One of the blessings of MS is slowing down enough to sit and listen.  When any of the grandkids speak, they have my attention.  Even though I don’t always comprehend exactly what is being said, I have a better chance of understanding and catching on if I am listening intently.  When they speak, babble, or coo, it’s my chance to listen carefully and wait for responses.  Hopefully the more I listen to the little things now, the more they will trust me with the little and big things as the years progress.
I am also continually learning that God desires for me to make and take the time to intentionally listen to Him.  Every day I need to set aside a specific time to listen, pray, read the Bible, and put into practice what he is leading me to do.  As I go about life, I need to intentionally be listening for God’s teachings and promptings and respond in obedience.
You have declared this day that the Lord is your God and that you will walk in obedience to him, that you will keep his decrees, commands and laws—that you will listen to him. 
Deuteronomy 26:17

Listen and hear my voice;
    pay attention and hear what I say.

Isaiah 28:23

While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”
 Matthew 17:5
Again Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen to me, everyone, and understand this. 
Mark 7:14
My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 
John 10:27

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 
James 1:22