Thursday, August 31, 2017

All Good Things ... (And "When Things Don't Turn Out The Way You Wanted")


You know what they say - that there's a time for every good thing to end.  Well, I would like to end this blog on these posts, some of my favorites (along with the “How I Broke” post and the series on predestination in April). 
 

But since I still have more posts from my other blog to break up into smaller pieces for this one, I will be adding new posts in random places throughout the past 8 months.  Just slipping them in anywhere I can.  (And I will be continuing to add posts to one of my other blogs - https://heathersgardenandhome.blogspot.com.)    
 

In general, it doesn’t matter when they are dated or where they are placed.  (But if it does, I will note the date that they were actually written.) 
 

I know this might make it a little inconvenient because it means sifting through the past 8 months for new posts BUT … it doesn’t really matter since no one is reading anyway.  So I am going to do this for me, to have the “ending” that I want yet still being able to add new stuff when I feel like it.



And now ... "When Things Don't Turn Out The Way You Wanted":


Starting Your Own Relationship with Jesus Christ (And Why We Need Him!)

(repost) 

             John 3: 16: “For God so loved the world that he sent his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

            God so loved the world.  He didn’t just love the world; He so loved the world.  He so loved the world that He (Jesus) would die in our place before He would miss out on an eternal relationship with us.  He knew that we would disappoint Him and hurt Him and fail Him, but He still so wanted a relationship with us that He made a way.  He knew that there would be many, many people that would reject His gift of love and salvation, but an eternity spent with those who would choose Him was worth the price of dying on the cross.  That is some amazing love!     
 
 

            Let me ask you something:  If you were to die today or if Jesus came back today, would you be ready?  Seriously!   This life, as we know it, isn't going to go on forever.  And we are not invincible.  People die every day, in every kind of way.  Are you ready to face eternity, what comes the moment after you take your last breath?  Have you figured out who Jesus is and why He matters so much? 

            Because this will be what matters most the moment after you die.  And, quite honestly, it's what matters most in this lifetime, too.
 

Atheism and World Religions (repost)


[This is also taken from the Bible study I wrote.  FYI – like the other reposts, it’s very long.]

            In this lesson, I combined parts of several posts from https://myimpressionisticlife.blogspot.com.  This lesson in not really an academic “study” of atheism and world religions, but it’s a very personal account of why I could never give up my faith in Jesus, why those other options are not for me, and how I would explain salvation and faith in Jesus to a non-believer. 

            Christianity isn’t a squeaky clean, “everything goes smoothly and life is always what I want it to be” kind of faith.  It can be messy and painful and difficult. 

            Due to many trials which have caused me to struggle deeply with my faith, I’ve become a little less polished and a lot more real over the years.  This is why I included this lesson and the depression one.  Because I really wanted to show the very real, human side of being a believer in Jesus, how we can struggle enormously with heartache and pain and doubt and fear . . . and yet still cling to Him.

            This will be a long lesson (I tried to cut it down as much as I could) because I will be looking at several different things which all relate to what we choose to believe and why: atheism, world religions, evidence to support the Bible and Jesus, and how I would describe salvation and faith in Jesus to someone.  

 

Why I Could Never be an Atheist

            “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’”  (Psalm 14:1)
 

             “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities - his eternal power and divine nature - have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.”  (Romans 1:20)


The End Times (repost)


            (Reposted directly from a post about the End Times in the Bible Study I wrote.  I don’t know, but something about all the hurricanes and earthquakes and solar flares and society going more “cash-less” and the terrorism and the martyring of Christians and the disease epidemics and the technology to put little radio transmitters into people’s hands containing their information and the various celestial events and a fast-approaching “one-world system” and a brewing civil war and a brewing world war, etc. … I don’t know, but something about all that makes it seems worthwhile to repost this post at this time.
            And to all those scoffers who say "None of this has anything to do with the end of the world" or "There is no 'end of the world' and Jesus isn't coming back again," I would like to ask you ... "Are you so sure!?!  Are you so sure that there isn't a supernatural world out there?  That there isn't a God who will someday do exactly what He said He'd do in His Word?  That He isn't moving and working in this world and about to bring this time to an end?  Are you so sure!?!  Even if the end doesn't come in our lifetime, it will come someday - in our own lives and for the world as we know it.  Are you prepared to face the truth?  Will you find the truth before it's too late?"     
            FYI, I didn’t repost all the questions at the end of Bible study here, just the main content.  Warning:  Don’t read this unless you are ready for a headache, ‘cuz your head will be spinning.)

 

            No study on the “less clear” things of Scripture would be complete without a look into the End Times.  There are many different ideas about how the world will end.  Of course, most Christians believe that it will end when Christ returns and God makes all things new.  But what isn’t clear is the timing of everything.  And the biggest “unclear” thing: Will there be a rapture?  Will it come before, during, or after the tribulation?

            I have studied this really intensely at different times over the years.  Reading every book on the topic that I could find, studying the Bible, checking the original Greek meaning of the words, etc.   To me, it is a huge, complex, wonderfully-frustrating puzzle.  And I could never really understand it . . . until this last time that I studied it.  And I was finally able to settle this issue in my mind once and for all. 

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Six Dollars and Thirty-Three Cents



            Six dollars and thirty-three cents.


            It’s all the money that my 8-year old and 11-year-old have right now … and they have asked me to donate it to those affected by Harvey.
 

            We were watching some coverage of the aftermath of the storm, and we saw the story of “Mattress Mack,” the man who opened up his high-end furniture store as a shelter.  And my 11-year-old turned to me, almost with tears in his eyes, and said, “It’s so incredible that someone would risk their business like that to help other people.”  He immediately went to his room and scraped up all the coins he could find (getting his 8-year-old brother to do the same) and they gave it to me to give to the Harvey victims.
 

            Six dollars and thirty-three cents. 
 

            “But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny. 
            Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, ‘I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others.  They gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything – all she had to live on.’”  (Mark 12:42-44)         
 

            Six dollars and thirty-three cents.  It might not be much in the world’s eyes, but it’s an incredible sacrifice in God’s eyes.  Because it comes from a heart that wants to love and help … a heart that sees the hurt and needs of other people and refuses to do nothing … a heart that knows it doesn’t have much to give but that gives it anyway.
 

            ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’”  (Matthew 25:40)

 

            What if we all gave at least a mere six dollars and thirty-three cents to help those in need? 
 

            What if we all gave with our whole heart, with a desire to help, to heal, to not sit there and do nothing while others are hurting? 
 

            What if we all lived with the knowledge that it could be our family in extreme need someday, that we could be the ones who lose everything, the ones who are broken and lost and afraid, the “least of these”? 
 

            What if we all saw the “least of these” as brothers and sisters, as friends, as family, as ourselves? 
 

            What if we realized that when we give to them, we give to the Lord, that even our smallest sacrifices matter when they're given out of a heart overflowing with love? 
 

            What if?
 

 

            I put the boys’ money in a baggie with a note to donate to the relief efforts. 
 
 
            And then we went out and bought $140 worth of necessary items to donate along with the money.  And we are bringing it to the donation drop-off tomorrow.  I want my boys to be a part of this, to feel what it feels like to physically, financially, and emotionally reach out and be a part of the helping efforts, to understand that we all have to do our parts to help those who need it because we are all in need in one way or another.  I want them to remember that $6.33, even though it might seem small, is nothing short of huge, of beautiful, of “worth it.” 
 

            I know that the little bit we donate won’t make much difference in the grand scheme of things and that none of the victims will really see that $6.33.  But – if anything – I am writing this post so that the victims of Harvey know that they are not alone, that they are in our hearts and prayers, that we are standing alongside them in this time of tragedy, and that even two small children care enough about them to give them all that they have, . 
 

            God bless you all!  God keep you in His comforting hands and may He help you find healing – physical, spiritual, financial, relational.  And may a tragedy like bring us together as a nation, helping us rise above the differences that are tearing our country apart.    
 

            “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ … ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  There is no commandment greater than these.”  (Mark 12:30-31)
 

            “And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.”  (Hebrews 13:16)
 

            “Do to others as you would  have them do to you … Give, and it will be given to you.  A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap.  For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”  (Matthew 6:31, 38)

 

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Praying Scripture: When You Fear You're Failing in Life


            Proverbs 3:5-6:  “Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”

            Proverbs 16:3:  “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.”

            Colossians 3:23-24:  “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward.  It is the Lord Jesus you are serving.”

            1 Corinthians 10:31:   “ . . . whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” 

            Romans 8:28:  “And we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

            Matthew 6:19-21:  “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in a steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

            Matthew 25:21:  “… ‘Well done, good and faithful servant!  You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.  Come and share your master’s happiness!’”

 

            Lord, you know how anxious I am, how much I feel like I am failing at everything, like everything is falling down around me and I can’t keep it together.  I need You now, Lord.  I need to know that I am doing okay.  (And if I not, then I need to know what needs to change.) 

            Please, Lord, speak words of comfort to my anxious, despairing heart.  To the part of me that feels like I’m going to let You and everyone else down, no matter what I do or how hard I try.  To the part of me that just never feels “good enough.”

            Lord, You promise to work everything for good.  Please take my feeble efforts and use them for Your glory.  Make something beautiful out of my messes and my shortcomings.  Sometimes I feel like that’s all I am capable of – messes and shortcomings.  But I know You can turn them into something good, because Your Word says so.  I might not be able to do much, but please take the little I do and work it for Your glory.  (And reveal to me if there is something that I claim to do for Your glory and purposes but that I am actually doing for my own glory and purposes.) 

            Lord, You know my heart and my motives.  You know that I want to please You, that I am trying my best to do my best at the jobs You have given me.  Please, be glorified in that, and help me know that I am doing okay in Your eyes, for I feel like I am failing in the eyes of so many others, including my own.    

            You say that if we trust You and lean on You then You will make our paths straight.  Please, Lord, I am leaning on You now.  I don’t always know the right step to take, so I need You to straighten the path as I walk.  And when I don’t have the strength to keep walking, I need You to carry me.  And when I don’t even have the strength to stand, please, Lord, just hold me for awhile and let me know that it’s going to be okay. 

            Help me remember that it’s not my job to always know which way to go in life or to be “strong enough,” but that my job is simply to let You lead, to lean on You when I am weak, to follow You in daily obedience, to work at whatever I do with all my heart for Your glory, and to let You work it all out for good and for Your purposes.

            The Bible says that if I commit my plans to You, Lord, they will succeed.  Well, I am committing my plans to You – the work I do everyday.  I want to do it for Your glory, Your purposes, and Your kingdom.  Help me remember to do my best simply because it matters to You, because You see what I do and why I am doing it.  And what I do matters to You, even if no one else sees it.  Guide me along as I go, as I do the jobs You give me each day.  Lead me in the direction You want me to go.  Use my efforts as You want to, whether they appear successful to the world or not. 

            I know that I might not see the rewards of my work, my efforts, here on earth or on this side of eternity, but may I be successful, Lord, in Your eyes, in the heavenly realms.  Help me remember to always work for eternity, not for the things I can see.  Help me build up treasures in heaven as I wait to hear those words, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”    

                                                            - Heather K (Joshua 24:15, Psalm 46:10)  
           

Praying Scripture: Prayer about Resting in the Lord


            Matthew 6:25-34:  “Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear.  Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not much more valuable than they?  Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? . . . But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

            Proverbs 3:5-6:  “Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”

            Psalm 46:1-3, 10:  “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.  Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though the waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. . . . Be still and know that I am God, I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

            Psalm 37:7:  “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him…”

            Psalm 25:9:  “He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way…”

 

            Lord, You know how easily I give in to worry, to the concerns of life, the fear of the unknown, the fear that I will make too many mistakes and mess everything up and be too weak to handle everything.  You know that I can make myself crazy with fear.  But it’s hurting me.  It’s exhausting me.  It’s crushing me.  And I can’t do it anymore.  And I know that You never wanted me to live that kind of fearful life anyway.  I have been choosing it because I have let myself believe that it all rests on me, that I am alone in this and that I have to be big enough and strong enough and wise enough. 

            But I don’t have to be “enough” . . . because You are.  I don’t have to listen to Satan every time he says, “You see that burden right there?  You better pick it up.  There’s another one.  It’s yours, so pick that one up, too.  Have you thought about this concern and this other fear?  They’re your responsibilities, too, so you better carry them because no one else will.”

            Satan lies.  And I have been listening to him for too long.  I have been listening to the one who wants to discourage me and exhaust me and crush me.  And most of the burdens that I have been carrying around were never my burdens, my concerns, or my responsibilities to begin with.   

            You don’t ask me to take responsibility for most of the things that I worry about.  The only things that You really ask of me are that I live humbly before You, that I do the daily jobs that You have given me and let You take care of everything else, that I bring You glory in whatever I do, and that I rest in You and trust in You.  Because You are God and I am not!  You are the One who is big enough and strong enough and wise enough.  And I am not alone in this world.  You are there, carrying me and making things work out right, if only I will trust You enough to let You do it. 

            And so I am throwing myself upon You right now.  I am going to lean on You now, instead of on myself.  I am going to trust in You to make my path straight, to handle the things I can’t handle, to know the things I can’t know, to work things out for the best, and to carry my concerns and my fears.  Even when it feels like the earth is falling apart, You are still there.  You are still in control and holding in all together and will make everything work out for good. 

            I don’t have to always know what to do . . . because I know You.  And You will guide me in the right path and take care of me and handle my concerns and keep me safe and bring me peace.  My focus today is not to fix anything or make everything okay; it’s just to be still in You and to know that You are God.  You are my refuge and my strength.      


                                                            - Heather K (Joshua 24:15, Psalm 46:10)