Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Redeemed

This morning, I have been pondering about the word "redeemed" and how it relates to me as a follower of Christ. I discovered that the word has a few different meanings. One of the most common meanings is to "buy back something that was lost or sold". Another meaning I found is to take something that is bad and change it completely until it is new or acceptable. I like that definition. We have not only been bought back but we have been changed, renewed, and made acceptable. We have not been purchased back and left as we were. No we have been changed, renewed and made acceptable to God. We are no longer a sinner in need of salvation. No! We are "Sons and Daughters". I can't help but remember the old hymn by Fanny Crosby. It said, "Redeemed how I love to proclaim it...His child and forever I am. Did you catch that? "His child and forever I am!" His child, not a step child, not a half sister or brother, but His child. It has always grated on my spirit when I would hear people introduced as a "step" brother or a "step" sister. You are either a sister or you are not. You are either a brother or you are not. The word "step" added to a person's identity devalues them and makes them less than they are. I have an adopted daughter and she is not nor will she ever be, my "step" daughter, neither am I a "step mother". I am her MOTHER and she is my DAUGHTER. She is my son's SISTER. She has been adopted, redeemed into my family. She has been changed from orphan to daughter, from lost to found, from alone to a part of a family who loves her. This is who we are. We will never be a "step" brother to Jesus...NO! We are, and forever will be, changed into acceptable sons and daughters of the MOST HIGH GOD! This is REDEEMED! REDEEMED By Fanny Crosby Redeemed, how I love to proclaim it! Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb; Redeemed through His infinite mercy, His child and forever I am. Refrain Redeemed, redeemed, Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb; Redeemed, redeemed, His child and forever I am. Redeemed, and so happy in Jesus, No language my rapture can tell; I know that the light of His presence With me doth continually dwell. Refrain I think of my bless├Ęd Redeemer, I think of Him all the day long: I sing, for I cannot be silent; His love is the theme of my song. Refrain I know there’s a crown that is waiting, In yonder bright mansion for me, And soon, with the spirits made perfect, At home with the Lord I shall be.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

A Road Map

In the last few days I have had several people ask me for directions. Because I haven't had anyone ask me for directions for a very long time, I began to wonder if I looked like a walking road map. I do have a pretty good handle on directions. I am the copilot in the family. You see, I don't like to drive but I do like maps and directions. So when complete strangers stopped me for directions I knew right where they should go to get to their destination. It was easy. I started thinking about this and I have decided that, as a follower of Christ, I should always know where to go. In our American culture so many people are lost. They are looking for love, acceptance and direction in all the wrong places. Many have degrees in occupations that they no longer wish to work in and are lost in their occupation. Aimlessly searching for a place to fit in, they spend money, waste time and expend all of their resources, trying to find their way, trying to feel like they fit in. How can they find their way if even those who have been directing them are lost? How, as followers of Christ, have we wondered so far from His path, that we have become the blind leading the blind? I need to know how to follow Christ is such a way that those who follow will have a clear path already lit with my experiences. I need to live in such a way that those who follow will not be lost in my wonderings but directed in the way they should go. The Bible says, in Proverbs 22:6, that if we train up a child in the way he should go, that he won't depart from it. I have often heard this verse quoted as a faith statement in regards to children who are not walking with the Lord. It is true, this is a great verse to stand on, in that situation. However I would like to focus on the part that says, "Train up a child in the WAY". Did you catch that? Train in the WAY! Loosely translated, "Lead a child on a clear path and He will not wonder off, he will be safe". We, you and I, need to be a road map for others to follow. Our lives need to be such that others can follow and find, not only eternal life, but direction, peace and a happy life here and now. After all isn't that what Jesus died for? Isn't that what people are looking for? John 10:10b "I have come so that they may have life, and may have it abundantly."

Friday, June 22, 2012

Karen Klein The Blessing of a Lifetime

An elderly woman in Greece NY is about to receive the blessing of a lifetime. Karen Klein, a 68 year old school bus monitor, was just doing her job, when middle school boys began taunting and bullying her. The boys said unbelievably cruel things and left Karen crying in her seat. Someone video recorded the boys and posted it on YouTube. From that moment on, people began to take notice of Karen Klein. A fund was set up to send Karen on a vacation however, people from all over have sent in thousands and thousands of dollars and it just keeps adding up. Right now more than 22,589 people have donated more than $485,123. Yes that is right, four hundred, eighty-five thousand and one hundred and twenty three dollars. The original goal was $5000. Now there is enough money for Karen, that she will never have to step foot on that bus ever again. I can't even begin to understand how Karen felt on that school bus (you can watch the video here: http://www.indiegogo.com/loveforkarenhklein). I am positive it never once entered her mind that this cruel event would become the blessing of a lifetime however, that is exactly what happened. Karen chose not to press charges against the boys who made her cry. She didn't try to defend herself. She just went home like she did every other day (I am sure this wasn't the first time Karen went home after a long day on the bus, crying) to find that there are good people in the world and that they would defend her. Karen must have felt alone and defenseless and yet someone was watching and someone cared enough to say, "This isn't right." You may be in a difficult place and, like Karen, you may feel alone, like no one is standing with you, that no one is defending you. If you get only one thing from Karen's story, get this...there IS someone who is watching. There is a God who cares and He has people who are willing to be his hands and feet, ready and willing to stand up, when it counts, and defend the defenseless. This is a lesson of faith and endurance, faith that there is a God who sees, faith that says not all people are cruel and endurance that says, don't give up, you can go on another day. Today may be your worst day ever but it may also be the day of your greatest blessing. Don't give up. You never know what today may bring, it just might be the blessing of a lifetime. Saltkeeper.blogspot.com

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Practice Makes Perfect

Last night, I was talking to my dad about the killing of a nurse in Buffalo. The alleged shooter is a surgeon who had served 18 years as a decorated special forces soldier. As we talked about how sad this situation is, my dad reminded me of another decorated soldier who is in a maximum security prison for a similar crime. My dad then said, "It's sad because these men have been trained to kill and fight but they have not been trained to live. That phrase struck me as I thought about us as Christians. We have been taught how to fight the enemy. We know how to resist the devil and make him flee. We know how to put on the whole armor of Christ. We know how to fight but many of us don't know how to live. Yes it is true, we have many good teachings on family and relationships however, a teaching and a sermon is not enough when it comes to training. A good soldier does not just listen to instructions and watch how-to videos. No, a good soldier trains and develops discipline. He practices how to put his gun together in seconds. He also knows how to shoot that same gun and can hit the target every time. He lives the life of practice, practice, practice. According to the Barna research group, "conservative Protestant Christians, on average, have the highest divorce rates among conservative Christians and are significantly higher than for other faith groups, and much higher than Atheists and Agnostics." Wow! The "research also raises questions regarding the effectiveness of how churches minister to families. The ultimate responsibility for a marriage belongs to the husband and wife, but the high incidence of divorce within the Christian community challenges the idea that churches provide truly practical and life-changing support for marriages." (quote from http://www.religioustolerance.org/chr_dira.htm) This is not a condemnation to those who are divorced, I only use this example to show that in our churches we are not doing a very good job teaching people how to live. We need to take the same principles as special forces soldiers have done in training to fight, and apply them to living. For example, if you don't know how to communicate to your spouse than practice communicating until you can do it right. Don't give up just because you have a fight or get wounded. Remember we need to be able to live better than we know how to fight. If you don't apologize well, or don't know how to, or just plain don't like to, than you need to practice until you get it right. If you don't know how to serve one another in love than practice until you can do it in your sleep, and with a good attitude. By the way, attitude is learned behavior. A good attitude takes a lot of practice and skill. As I gave this some thought, I paused when I thought of some of the greatest warriors, prophets and kings in the Bible. These great men knew how to fight but they didn't know how to live. King David, raised a bunch of fighting kids who fought and killed each other. Solomon obviously had relationship issues as he had 700 wife's and 300 concubines. Mannasseh was one of the most wicked men mentioned in the Bible and, yet, his father was the godly King Hezekiah. Samuel had two of the most wicked sons, Joel and Abijah. We should not forget Isaac's two fighting sons, Esau and Jacob or the priest Eli and his wicked sons. For me, this is a wake-up-call. We all need to learn how to live, not just fight. As for me, I will practice until I get it right. I hope you will too.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Backup Plan

It has been one of "those" weeks. You know, one of those weeks that doesn't seem to go as planned. It started out with a spillover of last week, which was also one of "those" weeks. My father-in-law has been very sick and we have done several of the 74mile trips back and forth to be with him and with family, at the hospital. My poor husband had to fix a bunch of electrical lines on the second floor of our house. The girls all have had school projects to do. I've done at least 12 loads of laundry. I've cooked dinners and little wedding cake things for a friend. I smashed my finger and now have a bruise on a knuckle. And last night my oven started smoking. Don't anyone make any comments about my cooking. Ha ha. I wasn't cooking anything. However, it is not un-usual for my oven to smoke as I hate cleaning it but when the oven isn't on and nothing is inside, and it starts smoking well..there is something wrong. It took us all a few minutes to find out why it was smoking. It seems that the switch that turns on the oven light had started to melt down, but we didn't find the culprit until Fred spent hours getting the stove apart, finding the burnt out switch and putting it together again. I didn't know the oven could come apart in so many pieces. First the top came off and then the back. All of the burners had to come off. This seemed like a good time to clean them. So I scrubbed and cleaned. Oh yes, and we had to pull the oven from the wall. Now I won't go into a little sermonette of "Be sure your sins will find you out". Because I think we have all heard that one, but there are a lot of "food sins" that lurk under and behind a kitchen stove. I'll leave you to guess what I found. Hours later, the stove was cleaned and Fred was putting it all back together. He plugged it in and I said to him, "Oh look, the light still works.". He then told me the light couldn't work because it was the light switch that he took out. It was then that I realized I had misspoke. It was the clock that came on. I started pushing buttons to make sure it all worked right. The top light worked and the burners worked and then I pushed the only remaining button on the stove and when I did, something amazing happened. The oven light came on. I wish you all could have been with us in the kitchen when that happened. It seems there are two switches that control my oven light. I only lost one of them, behold my oven light still works. We were all laughing. I laughed so hard I was crying. I couldn't stand up straight. I wish you could have seen the look on Fred's face when that oven light flashed on. There were two switches for that light, almost like a backup plan. Years ago when I had cancer, I had to have a pretty invasive surgery. When I came out of the surgery, I found out that I was now missing quite a few "parts". I didn't know a body could function without all of those parts, but mine does quite well. I lost over 29 parts if you count each and every lymph node that was removed. Amazing! God created us with a back-up plan. Our bodies work even without all of our parts. God has a backup plan for you too. Perhaps the devil has stolen from you and you feel broken, beaten up bruised, and missing parts. Maybe your light has gone out, you have lost your family, your health, your finances, your good name and reputation. Don't be afraid and discouraged. God has a backup plan for you. He created everything you need to start over. Your light will still come on. Your family can be restored. Your body can be healed. Your finances can increase and you can have more than enough. Your reputation can be built back up again. All is not lost. Don't say it can't happen because it can and it will. I just love it when God starts fixing things that are broken and missing parts. When my oven light came back on I was beside myself with laughter. God has a backup plan for you and when you see what he can do for you, you will laugh too.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

A Merry Heart

Sad things happen. They happen to everyone. Sad thoughts stir up memories, that should stay buried in the past. While stress, bad diets and inadequate rest accumulate to become bad attitudes and fearful hearts. These all keep us from being as effective as we should be. God has given us a key to fighting these thoughts and feelings. It is called the Joy of the Lord. A dear friend said to me the other day, that her situation seems hopeless however, she is trying to laugh about it because she will either laugh or cry and laughing is better than crying. Proverbs 17:22 tells us that a joyful heart is good medicine, and that a broken spirit dries up the bones. This means that if our heart is joyful that it will bring healing to our spirit. I don't know about you but sometimes I need my spirit healed. And you know what? I would rather laugh than cry. Yes there is a place to cry but I don't think anyone should be in that place for very long. Crying is often the expression of being overwhelmed and it comes with hopeless feelings and despair. When it is finished it leaves a broken heart. Laughter, on the other hand, brings a lightness to the heart and stirs faith in our spirit. It is an expression of faith that says, "I can laugh at this situation because it isn't as bleak as it seems. My situation can't get me down. I am in charge of my emotions." We are all in a difficult time right now. There are wars and rumors of wars. There is a worldwide financial crisis that has touched everyone both great and small. People are frightened, jobs are scarce and prices are going up. In the midst of all of this the devil, the enemy of our souls, is trying to steal our faith, break out hearts, and make us give up. I think we should all laugh in his face. After all what do we have to lose? It is better to laugh than to cry.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

He Holds My Hand

It seems like our weather is changing all around us. As many of you know I love the snow. This year for the first time in fifteen years I was in NY for the month of March and I was expecting a pretty good snow fall. Instead, what I got was eighty degree days and my kids were outback having a water balloon fight, wearing their swimsuits. Can you believe it? I never would have imagined eighty degree days in Western New York in the middle of March. I have to say I felt cheated. Now we are having tornados, cold days and unbelievable weather. It's June and 54 degrees out. I might have to go dig out one of my winter sweaters. This reminds me of an old hymn we used to Sing. "I don't know about tomorrow, I just live from day to day. I don't borrow from its sunshine for its clouds may turn to grey.". It goes on to say that there are many things about tomorrow that I don't understand but I know who holds tomorrow and I know He is holding my hand. In the same way that the weather seems to have a mind of its own so do the days of our lives. I have often told Fred that I feel like I have lived many different lives, my childhood, our early marriage, our early ministry and now today. I have been to so many places and done so many things that sometimes it feels like my life has been a book I once read. Years ago I heard a motivational speaker instruct his listeners to write out a plan for their lives. I remember telling Fred that no matter what I wrote it would never be able to predict where God was taking us. I can honestly say, that even today as I look towards tomorrow, with all my plans and scheduled days, that I don't really know about tomorrow. BUT I know who holds tomorrow and He holds my hand. Jesus the great creator of tomorrow has never let go of my hand. Arm in arm we have walked through dangers, sorrows and mountains of adventures. Never once has he left me. Never once has he released my hand. You may be going through a difficult day today. Or perhaps it has been a terrible year. You may be afraid of what tomorrow brings wondering if, as some would say, for the other shoe to drop. Don't be afraid. Jesus has already been in our tomorrow. There is nothing in tomorrow that you and He can't face. I don't know about the weather in your life, I don't understand how or why the seasons of life change the way they do. But I know who holds tomorrow. I know He holds my hand. Look! He's holding yours too.