Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Prayer Card

Stephen was in the youth group at Tallowood when Larry was Minister to Students.  He loved Jesus and was a leader among his peers during those days.  Now he is leading and encouraging his family to love and serve the Lord.  Stephen and his wife are raising 4 boys.  Last Sunday his youngest son, 7 year old Peter, asked to fill in one of the prayer cards at church.  Usually these cards record a specific request the person would like others to pray for on their behalf.  This is what Peter wrote:

 How refreshing to see the heart of a child who is grateful that God made him just the way he is.  I would venture to say that Peter has heard his parents pray that same prayer over him and he has learned to believe and voice it as well.  Too many times these days, we view ourselves as “not enough.”  We complain that we are too short or too tall; not smart enough; our hair is too curly, too straight, not the right length or color; we are not as athletic or artistic as we desire…and the list goes on. 

After reading Peter’s prayer card, I could picture Jesus smiling and turning to His Father and saying, “Peter gets it.  He’s thankful we made him.  You are welcome, Peter.  You blessed us today.”   

Oh to continue to rediscover and pursue the trust, acceptance, belief, transparency, and honesty of a child.  Thank you, Peter, for writing your prayer card.  God used you to remind me that I am created in His image and I have the privilege of delighting in and being grateful for that every single day.   I am continually learning that there is freedom and much joy as I become the person God created me to be.  That will always be enough. 

And there is no better time to voice that than now… “Jesus, thank you for me.  Amen.”

So God created mankind in his own image,
    in the image of God he created them;
    male and female he created them.
Genesis 1:27 (NIV)

For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.
Psalm 139:13-16 (NIV)

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Blessings in Disguise

There was a big rainstorm on Monday afternoon.  Although I didn’t see much lightning, the roar and vibration of the thunder was definitely heard and felt.  At one specific moment, after an extra loud clap of thunder that seemed to shake the house, the computer shut off and one of the main phone bases stopped working.  I was relieved to not see or smell smoke after the occurrence.  After Larry came home, he checked out the computer.  When the internet would not come up, he called our provider.  The representative found some things that needed to be cleaned up on the line, but that still did not clear up the problem.  With more trouble shooting, Larry realized that the network card was out.  Even though I had several things to do using the internet the next day, I needed to wait for Larry to get home from work, purchase a new card, and then install it.  Once again I was intentionally grateful for our computer and especially that Larry knew how to install the card and fix the problem.

And then came the blessing in disguise.  I’m not sure whether it was the representative cleaning up the DSL line, the new network card, or both, but the internet now loads up in record time.  Even though it might have been a little inconvenient to be without the computer for a day, the final results were well worth the wait. 

Life has a way of sometimes giving blessings in disguise.  When I was a student at Texas Tech, it was time for the yearly Baptist Student Union Convention.  Busses had been rented and the much anticipated weekend had finally arrived.  Even though I was rarely sick, that Friday morning my allergies got the best of me.  After making it through classes, I realized that as much as I wanted to go to the conference I would need to wait for another year.  I was really disappointed and agonized over whether to still go, but I knew that not going was to be for the best.  Saturday morning, I awoke to the news, on the radio, that one of the busses from Tech had an accident on the way to the BSU Convention and flipped on its side.  One girl died and others were injured and hospitalized.  There was an overwhelming realization that I could have been on that very bus with friends.  Because of illness and choosing to stay in the dorm that weekend, my life had been protected and spared.

Sometimes we can see the answer for why something happens or doesn’t happen in a few hours time while other times it may be a week, months, or years before we know.  And sometimes we have to rely on faith to realize that we may not ever know this side of Heaven all of God’s mercies in disguise.

In the chorus to Laura Story’s song “Blessings”, she reminds us of God’s mercies.

'Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears?
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You're near?

What if trials of this life
Are Your mercies in disguise?

He is good to everyone, and his compassion is intertwined with everything he does. Psalm 145:9 (The Living Bible)

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Sweet Blessings

Acteens is the missions education organization for junior high and high school girls in the Baptist church.  A few months ago, one of the senior high leaders asked if I would be willing to read through, edit, and critique the work for the three girls who have reached the highest level of Acteens, Texas State Citation.  This is the final step, after completing and passing 6 other years of work.  This year, their work is sent to the State Office to determine if the work passes the criteria that have been set.  With all that in mind, the closer the day came to begin reading through their notebooks, the more I started to question whether I would be the best person to do that.  I even had the name of a very qualified person to recommend.  The more I thought through and prayed about it, it was very clear that all God asked of me was to be available and He would take care of the ability part of the process.  So the past two weeks I have had the privilege of reading through and editing the three Acteens’ Texas State Citation notebooks and have been blessed in the process as I read their testimonies of how they accepted Jesus as their Savior; read detailed papers on “What Baptists Believe” as well as research on another religion and the comparison of the two; saw the reports to mission sites they visited; read 3 Bible stories they wrote for a children’s book, along with activities, songs, and Bible verses to help the children understand the Bible truths; read about the worship service they planned and led at the Wednesday night prayer service, read through the devotional and prayer guide that the girls wrote for the Week of Prayer for Home Missions that was distributed on Sunday morning; as well as noting other projects throughout the year.  This year as the young women are recognized, I will again thank God for the blessing of reading and seeing how He is at work in and through their lives and for reminding me, once again, that there are blessings when I am willing to say, “Yes” to His plan.

Another unexpected blessing came Friday afternoon while we were exercising at the gym.  A lady and her grown daughter came over to speak to us as they were about to leave.  The mother reminded Larry that 18 years ago she and her daughter went to his office and he led the daughter to accept Jesus as her Savior.  As the daughter smiled, the mother said, “And she’s still following Him.”  What a precious reminder of the gift of sharing and being available.

The past few weeks, I have been reading through the book of Job for my Bible reading each day.  Job is one of the books that I usually persevere through when it comes time to read it, but this year was different.  Aaron Jeoffrey, in his song “He Is,” sings about God being the “Timeless Redeemer” in the book of Job.  Even in the midst of Job’s losses, hurts, and frustrations, God proved Himself faithful as the Timeless Redeemer and I know He will be the same for me. 

A few of the verses that blessed, challenged and encouraged me in Job:

Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?”
In all this, Job did not sin in what he said. 
Job 2:10b

I know that my redeemer lives,
    and that in the end he will stand on the earth.

 Job 19:25

And he said to the human race,
    “The fear of the Lord—that is wisdom,
    and to shun evil is understanding.”

Job 28:28

Then the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm. 
Job 38:1

So I am continuing to learn that…
* God desires a willing heart that is available to do whatever He asks. 
* Obedience brings blessings.
* Whatever my circumstances, state of health, or concerns, God is and always will be my Timeless Redeemer.
* When God speaks, sometimes He calms the storm and sometimes He calms His child.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

The Gift of Freedom

This weekend, all across our country, people will be remembering, celebrating and giving thanks for the freedom and independence we enjoy as a nation.  Because of the sacrifices, dreams, and goals of our Founding Fathers, we have the privilege and honor of living in a democratic society.  On July 4th, there were picnics, family gatherings, food, time with friends, and fireworks to add to the festivities. 

Celebrations like these can be bittersweet, realizing that not every person in the world can or has cause to celebrate like we do in the United States.  But no matter where one lives, we all have the opportunity to be free because of the gift of salvation from Jesus.  It’s not the country, state, city, or community where one lives that grants them personal freedom, but rather the One to whom they choose to entrust their life. 

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”  John 14:6

Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  John 8:32

“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”  John 8:36

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.  Romans 8:1, 2

Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves.  I Peter 2:16

And the news about that freedom is worth sharing and celebrating all year long!