Archives for November 2012

Your Next Plane Ride

Written By Amy

Our Monday night bible study is studying “Esther” by Beth Moore.   This past week we were discussing the amazing courage Esther had when faced with the decision to hide out in her safe room in the palace, while the Jews were condemned to death by Haman, or risk her life asking her husband, King Xerxes to share a meal with her, in hopes of saving her people.

Somehow, Esther decides to risk everything to save the Jews in her town.  She says in Esther 4:16, “And if I perish, I perish.”

We all know the story turns out with a happy ending; justice is served to the evil Haman, and Esther saves her people through her intelligent plan and by winning the favor of Xerxes.

Yet, Esther didn’t know how the end would turn out when she trusted God to do the right thing.  She fasted from food and water for three days in preparation for taking the risk of her life.  She trembled, sweat, lost sleep, and felt the deep pangs of hunger as she struggled with the reality before her–honestly, in complete fear that when she approached the king without being invited, it would be some of the last steps of her life.

Fear.

It is what we experience when we feel out of control.  When we can’t write the outcome of our story, it causes anxiety.  When we see difficulty looming in our future.  The unknown is downright scary, so we grasp for control.  This is how Beth puts it in perspective:

Our conditional trust positions us as negotiators and beggars before God instead of secure children.” Esther, p. 107

A wise women in our bible study put it another way:

When we fly on an airplane some of us fear crashing, so we do weird things. We may only fly on certain airlines, pick certain flight times, pray the whole flight, grip the armrests, watch the flight attendants for unusual behavior, go through our superstitious motions, hoping to somehow create a

story of landing safely.  Yet the reality is….none of that matters.  The outcome is the outcome–the plane is going to either land safely or not, and none of us sitting in the back wringing our hands has any influence on that.  Well, maybe a little prayer helps…if, of course, landing safely is in God’s will (does that cause a gulp of anxiety to rise?  Do you trust in Gods ultimate plan for you?)

“The most critical breakthrough of faith you and I could ever experience is to let God bring us to a place where we trust Him–period.  We don’t just trust Him to let us avoid what we fear most.  We determine to trust Him no matter what, even if our worst nightmare befalls us.”  Beth Moore, Esther, p.108

I relate to the airplane analogy, because I like to be in control.  I have to remember that God has a plan, and all my efforts to predict or control the outcome don’t change who God is and his will for my life.  He just asks me to trust him, to trust in his goodness and his desire for the best in my life.

The more we know who God really is, the less fearful we become about where our life is going.  We can rest in the knowledge that someone much more qualified is in control.  We can have courage, like Esther, to do the right thing even when it makes the future uncertain..  So, when your next plane ride in life happens, literally or metaphorically, sit back, maybe just grip with one hand, and trust.

 

Drinking From My Saucer

by Jen Severn

My girlfriend’s mom passed away last week.  Her mom lately had been saying, “I am drinking from my saucer.”  It had become common in their conversations.  Char read this poem to explain.  I wanted to share it with you.  I have formated it so you can print it and put it into an 8×10 frame.  It moved my soul to hear these words.  A true attitude of gratitude, one this sweet lady lived by.

My mom and I drove up and this amazing view greeted us.

My Tribute to Char’s mom:

In a small town, when the sweetest woman,
who was motivated to serve by her love,
in her 90 lbs frame wore hay clips and could move a truck full of hay,
it was said, she never let the grass grow under her feet,
she thanked God for his grace,
and offered it to everyone she knew,
in this small town,
when she passed away,
the whole town showed up,
there was standing room only.

It was precious to be part of.
Men walking in with their straw cowboy hats under their arms,
their nicest worn boots,
a brown jacket with patches on the arms,
a suit jacket with a ranchers V sown across his back,
belt buckles, wranglers, all standing with the greatest respect to wish this lady goodbye.
Bronze skin, Colorado’s sunny squint marks worn in, hands like gloves, strong and worn.

A glorious day to see all God made in mountain, sky and man.

Being Thankful

Written By Amy

 

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving.  Our family has been in Texas visiting life-long friends of ours.

Yesterday we feasted on all the traditional dishes of the holiday, stuffing ourselves past comfortable, but enjoying every minute.  After the last busy scuffle to set steaming dishes on the table (which Jodie beautifully set with her grandmother’s china), I approached my chair to take a seat.  I took a brief second to view the overflowing dishes of turkey and gravy, creamed corn and green beans, soft, warm rolls and cranberry sauce.   Around the table, in cheerful conversation, sat my family, whom I cherish, and good friends. I felt very thankful.

The idea of thankfulness is important to God.  He reminds us to be thankful for him, in his scriptures.

David, in the book of Chronicles, actually assigned a job to some of the Levites to thank and praise the Lord before the ark of the covenant (Chronicles 16:4) .  What if your sole role in life was to thank and praise the Lord?  I can’t think of  any modern-day job with that description, but…what if it became even a small part of our every day?

Here is what David asked of a few of the Levites in the book of Chronicles:

That day David first appointed Asaph and his associates to give praise to the Lord in this manner:

“Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done.  Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts.  Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.

Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always.

Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles, and the judgements he pronounced.

For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared above all gods.

Ascribe to the Lord, all you families of nations, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.  Ascribe to the Lord glory due his name.

Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad:

Let them say among the nations, “The Lord Reigns!”

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.”

1 Chronicles 16: 8-12, 25-29, 33

 

We are given some great tips for thankfulness in these scriptures:

1.  Remember what God has done and tell people of his greatness

2. Look to the Lord to remember who he is, which stirs thankfulness in our hearts

3. Give the Lord the praise and glory  due his name

May God bless our hearts and stir them toward daily thankfulness.

 

Just Like God…

Written By Amy

 

I started in a new business this past spring.  It is something, I believe, that will help ease the financial stress that has been a weight on our family for the last few years since my husband’s company entered bankruptcy.  Jon continues to work tirelessly to provide for our family, starting a second business on the side.  I  also started working a part-time job two years ago, which I love and am SO thankful for, to help partially cover the lost pay.  My husband’s company is out of the woods for now, but his pay is not yet restored to what it was.   So when this new business venture was presented to me, I was filled with hope–it was manageable time wise,  had a product that I have come to love, and laid out a financial plan that seemed realistic.

The journey in this company is a long one, because I will not see any significant pay from it for a year to 18 months.  It is a process of growing my business, and it is slow.  But I continue each day to visit the goal, and feel continually excited about what the future holds, even though I see no tangible outcome at the moment.  My friend, who is also a part of this company, asked me yesterday, “Why is it that we are so excited about this, when it requires great patience, perseverance and belief in the goal?”  I said, “Hope.”

Over the last few months I have often equated this journey of mine with my spiritual walk.  It feels so much the same.   With both, I press on daily, with both, I have successes and stumbles, with both, I have great hope.

In my new business, I try to spend a little time each day investing some energy into my goal.  It usually is a few minutes each day, some days an hour or more, but each day I do something.  If I go a week or two and don’t think about it at all, I feel detached and find it harder to catch back up to where I was. I find that every time I talk to a friend who is also in this business, I leave feeling so encouraged!  They are experiencing the same pitfalls, and their successes motivate me to press on! This is exactly how I feel about my effort as a Christian.  I need to have God DAILY in my life, so that our relationship remains strong and alive.  I need to spend a little time (or a lot some days) reading the bible, in a study about Him, or in prayer.  I must have fellowship with others who are in pursuit of the same goal, and time with friends who share my faith is always so motivating, so uplifting.  We all hope for the same.

So, I daily take up my cross and pursue God in my relationships, my work, my heart.  I often wish I was further along, as I do in my business.  Yet, I know I must continue to pour effort into my relationship with Him to continue to move forward, knowing that my investment will produce great returns.  I do not currently see the financial returns of this work in my life,  and likewise my walk toward the gates of heaven is often intangible, with my hope placed in a God that I cannot physically touch today.  But I am confident that someday I will walk with Him and be in His presence.  This is what I hope for.

Wouldn’t it be just like God to bring something into my life to help me clearly see what he wants my relationship with Him to look like?

“I pray that the God who gives hope will fill you with much joy and peace while you trust in him. Then your hope will overflow by the power of the Holy Spirit.”  Romans 15:13

 

Just This Once

Written by Jen

Our pastor, Scott Nickell, just gave a killer talk on the phrase, “Just this once”.  I can’t do it justice.  Listen to it here!  How many times have I justified something by saying, “Just this once.”  Or, “Just one more time.”  I say that to myself all the time.  Do it just once, it will feel so good, it will help you, it will satisfy you, it will not happen again, you deserve it, just this once, or maybe just one more time.  Jesus was tempted by Satan in this way, just this once worship me.  It seems there is a bribe or a promise attached to just this once.  There was for Jesus, just this once worship me and I will give you all their authority and splendor of the kingdoms of the world, if you worship me, just this once.  (My paraphrase from Luke 4:5-8)

I am currently studying the book of James.  There is a interesting comparason in the first chapter.  It goes like this. There are roads, circumstances and decisions (trials and temptations) in our life that we all face.  The roads and responses we take lead in one of two directions, to life or death.

Trial ->  Test your faith -> develop perseverance -> mature and complete = BLESSED is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will recieve the crown of LIFE that God has promised to those who LOVE HIM. (James 1:2-4, 12)  There are no promises that this life is going to be stress free or free from trials and suffering.  Life is hard.  My dad used to tell me, “As soon as you realize that life is hard it’s easier to get on with it.”  How you respond to life’s trials and temptations matters.  Who you go to for life, for that fix, for that fulfillment, who you trust, who you lean on, who you put your hope, security and identity in, it matters.  “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.  He chose to give us birth though the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first fruits of all he created.” James 1:17-18.  God does not change.  He is worthy of your trust.  It is a good idea to memorize his words and plant them in your brain and on your heart.  They save and give life.  I don’t really know how to explain it, but God is a living God, and He says his word is living and active and he promises to never leave us or forsake us and he is close to the broken hearted.  There are many times I heald on for dear life to his words and was so thankful He is a living God not dried up ink.

Tempted -> By your own evil desire -> dragged away and enticed -> desire is conceived -> gives birth to sin -> sin, when it is full grown gives birth to DEATH. (James 1:14-15)  How does sin lead to death?  I don’t know lets go down that road.  Just one drink.  Just one kiss.  Just one hit.  Just one more. Just one lie. Just one second glance.  Just one comment. You fill in the blank.  What is it for you?  Just one _____.  It may be death to a friendship, a relationship, a life, a job, a marriage, a bank account…  Think about how the people in your life are affected by you decision of “just one time”  or “just one more.”  I just watched Flight.  It is a pretty powerful portrayal of addiction.  What about the most recent high profile affair.  Just one meeting.  Things start just once.  There are so many promises we believe with, just one time, or just one more time.  No one will know, it won’t happen again, no one will get hurt, I won’t be tempted again, I will be stronger next time, I can keep it under wraps… the list goes on.  I have been there.  It’s a hard road to get off and when the lights come on it’s not pretty.  If we are honest, I think all of us have been on that, just one time, road.  Some of you may be way down that road right now.  Some of you are thinking a lot about that road.  Desire and temptation are pulling on your heart and mind.  I think before any of us go down that road of desire, there are a whole lot of warning flags.  We justify them away.  When you start blowing through the red flags, take note.  Go down that road, all the way down that road in your mind.  Take a hard look at what the people you love the most are going to go through if you keep on going  down that path.  What are the hard consequences at the end of that road when the lights come on?  It’s a hard road to get off.  The sooner you do the easier it is.  The best way.  Get some help.  Turn the lights on.  Be honest. Jesus died for our sin.  None of us are exempt, but there are some pretty ugly situations that could be avoided, if you stop when you start thinking “just this once.”  God’s got a better way. RUN towards it.

How?  “Humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.”  James 1:21 Sometimes life is one big YES and a lot of little, Uh Huh’s.  Sometimes you have to do an about face.  If find myself saying yes to perseverance  then I have to keep reminding myself, yep, still holding on, hold on to the truth, Jen. If find I said yes to desire and then I see sin creeping in.  I usually kind of like it, but in the end it leaves me empty.  I know it’s not the road I want to go on, so then I realize there is an entanglement around me.  So, ideally, I do some weeding and start cutting the things that are entangling me off, so I can run the race marked out for me.  It’s a constant battle.  Like weeds and water.  I have to cut off the weeds and go to the God, my living water and source of life.  I am not even sure why I am posting this today.  I guess between the sermon, the movie, studying James and current events, even some in my own life (like my current addiction to Bejeweled) , I have been challenged.  I am not exempt from being entangled.  I need to do a little weeding, some running towards God, His word is challenging me.  The after shock of full BLOWN full GROWN straight up mature sin, just makes me sad.  It’s not fun to watch, actually, it’s depressing.  Full blown sin sends havoc on to all touched by it.  It’s ugly.  I don’t want to find myself there.  What I fear most is my own pride.  Those times when I get strong, rebellious and prideful and I start ignoring and blowing through the warning signs. I am justifying reason away and my desires are strong.

Lord help me to humbly accept the word of life planted in me.  That is my hope for all of us.  Don’t wander to far from the word of life.  Don’t ignore the warning signs, get courage and get off that road.  Turn the lights on.

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