Tuesday, February 28, 2012
There is a lot of talk these days about grace. Most of the time grace is referred to as "the unmerited favor" that is ours as a free gift of eternal life bought by the blood of Jesus and granted by our heavenly Father. All true. However there is another grace that I would like to talk about and that is the grace that enables us to live each day. The grace that we have for our family or our job or even for those we don't like. It is an unmerited favor that we give to others. It is our opportunity to become like Jesus. If you have been following my blogs you will recall that God has added to our house and with it He has added grace, both the need of it and the working out of it. I have many names in my house, Deb, Hunny, Mama, Aunt, Tante, and Nana. I answer to almost anything but the grace shows up when everyone is calling at once and there are questions I can't answer or the answers are not what the asker wants. In the midst of the hubbub and confusion God's grace says, "It's OK, don't worry. We can do the math. Diagram sentences. Go for a walk. Kiss the boo boo. Talk about boys. Do the laundry. Buy international airplane tickets. Mail news letters. Hem pants. Answer the phone. Pack. Make dinner and don't forget the cookies. And oh yes spend a little time with God.". Grace says, "Don't worry about tomorrow. Don't fret about money. Don't question the wisdom of God. Just rest each day, knowing that God is bigger than any situation you have whether it is a big problem of millions of little ones." We need to exercise and practice grace every day. Oh we love to receive it from others and especially from God however, it is a gift we are also expected to give. Tomorrow night I have the privilege to be a part of a wedding ceremony and it has caused me to reflect on my own marriage and family. Fred and I have been married 33 years and I think I have one of the most gracious husbands there is. He puts up with me. He encourages me in my ministry, listens to me when I grumble or tell the same story for the tenth time (at least I think he is listening), and even goes shopping with me. Now that man is truly a gift from God. He has had a lot of practice. Smile! I would like to encourage you to also practice grace. Offer a little unmerited favor today. Smile at the cashier in Walmart. Forgive someone even if they don't deserve it. Listen when you just don't want to listen any more. Open up your heart and live the life of grace. It works!
Saturday, February 25, 2012
In my house I have 6 girls. I have not given birth to any of these girls. No, actually, I have only one birth child, a son. Raising a son was a delight. Now that he is grown and married I realize how easy I had it. He was easy and fun. Now however, God has blessed me with six girls. Easy? No. Fun? Yes! Why is it that girls are so much harder? Maybe, for me, it is the shear number of girls. I have almost every possible size and personality in these six girls. I have the quite type, the moody type, the girly type, the Tom-boy type, and "the fun has arrived" type. Girls can go from laughing and crying in a matter of seconds. The transition from crying back to laughing isn't quite so fast. My number one girl, I adopted from West Africa. She has been mine now for over ten years. The other girls are kind of, on loan, for various reasons. One thing I have discovered about girls is that they collect more girls. Last weekend there were 14 spending the night, squealing, laughing and eating pizza. I don't think they slept at all. I love all of my girls. They are great girls and yet there are days that I feel like pulling out my hair and locking myself in my bedroom. Last week I was sitting between two of my girls, while they argued and accused each other. And what was I doing? I laid down on the floor and begged, yes begged, God to give me the wisdom of Solomon. After awhile I decided I had had enough and decided to go upstairs. When I arrived another girl was crying over her homework and upset with her computer. (You know how frustrating computers are...they are even worse during PMS) I turned right around and went back downstairs. I think I will make a room for myself in my attic, you know, some place to hide. As I thought about all of my girls, I thought about God. He never runs away from us. Isn't it wonderful how he sticks by us and never gets tired of our complaining. He doesn't get weary, and he isn't looking for a place where he can have peace away from us. He loves to be with us and he takes pleasure in hearing about our life both the good and the bad. He doesn't care if we have PMS, if we are boy crazy or just plain cranky. Oh yes He takes pleasure when we are happy. He loves it when we are thankful and not always asking for this and that new thing, that we "just have to have". But we don't scare him away when we are having a bad day either. He is still sitting with us, never leaving no matter what we are like. I'm going to try and be like God. You see I think that I have needed these 6 girls as much as they needed me. I need to learn to depend on the Lord Jesus regardless of the attitudes of those around me. I need to find the peace of God inside of me and not look for it in the situations that surround my life. So today I am writing while the little girl is doing Karate to invisible opponents, another is doing homework, one is getting ready for basketball practice and others are eating breakfast and doing various chores. Cartoons are playing in the background and the rocking chair is banging against the wall....yes I did ask for the chair to be moved but at the speed it is rocking it seems to walk back to the wall all by its self. I am not upset and I'm not running to the attic. God is giving me peace. God doesn't always remove us from our situations sometimes he just gives us the peace we need to live right where we are. I hope you have a nice day. I plan to.
Tuesday, February 21, 2012
This morning I was listening to my audio Bible, as I do most days, when I got to the part where the Cities of Refuge are mentioned in Joshua 20. My mind began to run with thoughts and ideas about these wonderful cities. Imagination a place when you can run to, to hide from the avenger of blood. It made me think about what Jesus did for us. We are that person who has to run from the avenger. The devil is the avenger and he will relentlessly pursue us however, once we are secure in the City of Refuge we are safe. We are the innocent sinner who, by the blood of Jesus, are no longer guilty. Running for our lives on the day we become Born Again, we rush through the gate of the City of God, pass through the blood of Jesus as it is poured out for us in the doorway. We state our case before Almighty God, He sees we are covered by the blood of Jesus and declares we are not guilty. As long as we stay in the city we are safe. As long as we are careful not to pass out of the gate, the avenger can not touch us. In my minds eye I can see that city. It is an awesome city with healing trees and cleansing rivers. It has homes and families and food without end. However I also see many who live close to the gate, ever looking outside. They are the people who like to live on the edge of the city's boundaries, longing for the past. Saved yet not convinced of the goodness inside of the city, they look outside and long for the day they can be free. They sneak out at night and wander the surrounding woods, thinking that as long as they stay close by and can run back inside they will be OK. They forget that the avenger of death is waiting outside for them and one of those times when they sneak out they will become trapped and the city of safety lost to them. Dear Friend, don't live on the edge of the city...come deep inside and take advantage of the wonders you will find there. It's a good place to live... I'll see you inside. Joshua 20:1-6 Then the Lord said to Joshua: 2 "Tell the Israelites to designate the cities of refuge, as I instructed you through Moses, 3 so that anyone who kills a person accidentally and unintentionally may flee there and find protection from the avenger of blood. 4 When they flee to one of these cities, they are to stand in the entrance of the city gate and state their case before the elders of that city. Then the elders are to admit the fugitive into their city and provide a place to live among them. 5 If the avenger of blood comes in pursuit, the elders must not surrender the fugitive, because the fugitive killed their neighbor unintentionally and without malice aforethought. 6 They are to stay in that city until they have stood trial before the assembly and until the death of the high priest who is serving at that time. Then they may go back to their own home in the town from which they fled."
Monday, February 20, 2012
It seems like it was just yesterday when I first heard the song, My Tribute, by Andrae Crouch. The beginning of the song rings even now in my memory, "How can I say thanks for the things You have done for me? Things so undeserved yet you gave to prove your love for me...". The song goes on but these first few lines of the song sum up the depth of awareness we all feel when we are faced with the grace and blessings of a merciful God. I relate with the words, "How can I say thanks?". I am left speechless, unable to correctly articulate the gratitude I feel to the Lord, my Lord, the Lover of my Soul. How can I say thanks? In my years of travel in Africa I have discovered a custom that addresses this thought. If you give someone a gift, especially is it is an expensive gift, the recipient of the gift will go to another friend or relative and ask that person to say "Thank you," to the giver. He or she will say to their friend, "I am unworthy to properly say thank you to this person who has given me this wonderful gift. Will you please say thank you for me?". It is with great humility the giver is thanked. I believe that this is what Andrae felt when he penned these words, "How can I say thanks?". I feel that gratitude and the loss for words as I write and so in African tradition, I ask you, my friends, please say thank you, for me, to the Lord for all He has done for me. "Things so undeserved, yet He gave to prove His love for me." "To God Be The Glory!"
Friday, February 17, 2012
Just when I think I have seen the best God has for me, He surprises me again. A few weeks ago a friend called Fred and I and said he had a Word from God for us. He asked if he could pray for us and after praying he began to tell us what he felt God was saying. Well, he finished his prayer time by saying, "God is going to bless you with food." Anyone who knows us understands that we go through a lot of food these days. With several of our African friends living with us as well as others from time to time the food just flies off from the table. We appreciated the prayer and the words of encouragement but within a day or two I sort of forgot all about it. That is until this week happened. Day after day someone has blessed us with food. Not just a little food, but bags and bags of food. Not only that but as we run out of something that very item shows up in the hands of a friend. I started thinking about this and I remembered the prayer and Word from God we had received just before all this food arrived. I have been feeling, for some time, that God was about to do something BIG. Yes I suppose there are many people feeling this but for me it's a more personal BIG. I have been sensing this for months now and everyday my anticipation grows bigger. I believe God gives us moments of his attention, giving us gifts and paying attention to the details of our lives just to show us that He is involved even in the smallest details of our life. For example, Tuesday morning my niece told me that we were out of jam. Before the day was over we had four jars of jam, all blessings from a friend. So back to my point, these small gestures from God speak to me of the promise of "something BIG". Every time I see the jar of jam, the can of tuna, the bag of apples, or the box of pasta, I hear God say, "You think this is good, just wait till you see what comes next." I would like to challenge you, my dear friend, look and see what small things God is doing for you and as you look consider what God is trying to say to you. You have not been forgotten and the future is bright even if all you see are clouds. There is an answer to your prayers even if you feel feel like there is no hope. Like I said, "God is about to do something BIG."