Monday, March 21, 2011

Choosing Forgiveness

Have you ever embarked on a journey where you know once you get to your final destination you will be excited and the road there will have been worth traveling on?
Some journeys are leisurely and others are a must. There are those roads we gladly take and others (like in Italy) that are going to cost to travel on. Along the way we will find ourselves on roads that are so smooth and easy to drive on. Others are filled with bumps, potholes, and even debris. Sometimes there are detours, traffic, even accidents that cause the journey to take longer than we expected.
There are journeys in life that are scary-perhaps we are afraid of what we may encounter along the way. It could be a road never really traveled before and the newness of it causes a bit of fear. Perhaps just thinking about the journey exhausts us and it seems like something that is going to take forever.
I remember as a youngster when we would go on family vacations. Imagine my parents with 6 kids in the car!!! As soon as school was out we would go to our house in the mountains –or as we called it “The Lake” since there was a lake right across the street that we spent most of our time at. About an hour into the trip one of us was asking “Are we there yet?” Soon to be followed by “how much longer til we get there?” and other time-related questions.
When I was in the states I saw a book some friends were reading
“Choosing Forgiveness” by Nancy Leigh DeMoss.
I like every book I have read of hers and knew this one would be no different. It was also a subject matter that I knew in my heart I had to address.
A couple weeks ago, it was time to begin reading it. I knew that once I took the book into my hands and made the decision to read it I also had another choice to make. Was I going to read it as just another good book with biblical lessons or journey with the Lord on the road to forgiveness? It wasn’t something I could take lightly. There was literally a lump in my throat and even a tinge of fear as I looked at the book and decided it was time to read it.
“We simply don’t have any choice about many of the things that happen to us. Our only hope lies in realizing that we do have a choice about how we respond to life’s circumstances-and it is those responses that determine the outcome of our lives.”
This is one of the quotes in the beginning of the book. So true and something similar to what most of us have heard before.
I have only read up to part of Chapter 2. There is a section where Nancy lists some things –as I read them and pondered my response to each one; it became even more evident that this is a choice much needed in my life-the choice to forgive, to allow God to do the work necessary in my heart. I was really ashamed of myself when I read those things and my response to them. My heart was so, so sad when the truth of what was in my heart was there before my eyes. Thankfully, God knows what we have need of and He appoints a time in our lives when He lays it before us –showing us our hearts and asking us to make that choice to allow Him to begin the work. To not forgive is sin-how much clearer can God's Word be. I rejoice in knowing that He doesn't just say this is what we have to do. He gives us His own example time and time again. He goes on this journey with us. He empowers us by the Holy Spirit to make the hard choices that need to be made.
I say a lot of things and I actually do mean them. When I say that I want to be able to forgive and I want to be kind to those who it’s so difficult to be kind to, I honestly mean it. But in these past couple of weeks it is becoming clear to me that saying and doing are two different things. I can say ‘oh I want to take a trip to England’ (ha ha, yes I really do) and talk about all the neat places to visit once there-but if I never get in the car or plane and go-what good is it?! Saying something and even having a deep desire to do it is non-productive if I don’t take the next step.
I think for so many of us, the forgiveness that needs to take place isn’t always some huge issue in the realm of things. For many of us it is personal, it has to do with people and words spoken, attitudes taken, hurtful things that we can’t seem to get past. Who was the wacko that made up that silly rhyme “Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me”. How dumb is that!! Often it seems easier to have someone throw a stick at us because at least the pain from that goes away. (No, I am not advocating throwing things at each other!!!) But words-oh how they sting, how they play over and over again in your mind. Once said, they cannot be taken back. I remember saying something to someone a couple years back and right as the words were coming out I knew at that very moment I shouldn’t have said them and yet there they were-they couldn’t be taken back! How I wish there was a delete button for the mouth!!
How do we forgive people who don’t think they have done anything wrong? How do we truly 100% hand over these things to the Lord and never ever take them back? I don’t know, but I want to find out.
On the cover page of the book, beneath the title is a subtitle-
Your Journey to Freedom.
It’s so true! The end of this road leads to freedom! I want to know that freedom. I don’t want unforgiveness to have a foothold in my life and affect the way I think about certain things. I want to be able to go back to the 2nd chapter of this book and answer ‘no’ to each question asked. I desire that freedom that can only come from yielding completely to Jesus and His ways, His Words, His touch. To be clay in the Potter’s hand!

Friday, March 11, 2011

While We Were Sleeping

By now most everyone has seen the devasting news about the earthquake in Japan. This morning when I turned on my computer to see the news I was horrified by what I was seeing. It was only the begining. We had a girl staying with us this past week from Japan. She left yesterday and was due home today. We have heard she made it to Tokyo but has to sleep at the airport. Hopefully her reservation for tomorrow will bring her safely home. She lives in Okinawa and they were not affected by the earthquake.
My heart went out to the people who were in the picture where it seems the tsunami was taking homes and cars and all else it could with it. There were people waving white sheets or something trying to get the help they needed. I pray they made it to safety. I pray the Lord will use the Christians who are in Japan to minister to the physical as well as spiritual needs of those who so desperately need Jesus. Let's remember to keep them in our prayers.
I was talking to Jim this morning about this earthquake and the mass confusion it causes, the transit systems stopped, nuclear plants at risk, uncertainty, scramble to get information, communication lines down, and questions of why this happened. I listened to the BBC news and they would get experts on to interview to try and give an answer. One reporter asked an expert why are we having all these earthquakes and he could only reply "Noone knows the answer to that".

I thought about when Jesus returns. I think that is on so many of our minds these days which I am glad about. There was an urgency about it when I was first saved and then life somehow takes over and I found myself not always living as though Jesus may come back at any moment.
The song "While You Were Sleeping" has been one of my favorites ever since I first heard it. My thoughts went to that song this morning. As many of us lay sleeping, this devastion came upon so many in Japan. I couldn't help but wonder that when Jesus returns people in the world will be sleeping and when they awake, they will awake to mass confusion. They will be caught off guard, unaware, searching for answers, seeking out the experts trying to figure out what happened. Imagine as they turn on the news the chaos that will be being reported. Airplanes left without pilots, vehicles without drivers and passengers, people disappearing from homes, businesses, markets. Parents left dumbfounded as to where their child have disappeared to.
Today the stockmarket was affected because of the earthquake-imagine the monetary system on that day!

All day today there was talk about how the tsumani would reach other countries. It was interesting to read about the levels. First there is the advisory, the alert, the watch and then the warning. It almost seems we can apply these to Jesus's second coming. We have been advised to be on alert-to watch-we have been warned. We are given the signs.
I believe that we as Christians have to get back to that urgency that Jesus could come at any moment. We need to advise people what the bible says. We need to warn them of the devastation that will take place. Emergency crews, policemen, firemen, mayors-all of them have been alerting the people to get to higher elevation if they lived near the coast. It was up to the people to heed the warning. I am always amazed during any catastrophy-be it a fire or a warning like this tsunami how there are people who refuse to heed the warning. They would rather guard their homes and their valuables. They want to think it isn't as bad as people are saying. The same is true as we warn people about Jesus's return. Some won't think it's true-they would rather do things their own way. How terribly sad!

We need to be occupied with Him and the work He has given us to do-whatever that is.
Years ago the buzz was always about Jesus coming back! You couldn't really go through a day with Christian friends without someone talking about it. "Maranatha" was a word used so often. I want to get back to that! Let's remind each other daily that today could be the day. Let's ask the Lord to bring that urgency back into our lives. Let's go out and share God's Word with as many as He calls us to-if they don't respond positively, atleast we gave the opportunity. There is such an urgency in my heart to give out as many invites to church and cards with the Gospel message on it.

When you watch the news reports on the earthquakes, pay special attention to the faces of the people. Look at their grief, pain, their uncertainty. Then, imagine these kinds of looks on the faces of those who are left behind. Ask God to rekindle the fire in your heart, to go and share His love with everyone you can.
Marantha, He is coming!!!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Name Game

Decided it was time to give the ole blog a makeover. Believe it or not we had snow the other day!!! In March!! That is so unusual for here. We barely had any snow all winter and on the day I have to take the train to Montebelluna it snows!!
Spring is in the air and that makes me very happy!!!
I have been thinking about the Tower of Babel story and how they wanted to make the tower so they could make a name for themselves. "Come let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth" Gen 11:4
They wanted to make a city with a big tower and they wanted to make a name for themselves! When I read this it made me so sad. I couldn't help but think of the way things are today. People constantly hoping to make a name for themselves. Sadly, this isn't just corporate America we are talking about. We all know that in the work force people will do whatever it takes to 'make it to the top' to be recongnized amongst the big wigs, to rub shoulders with the right people. We expect this kind of behavior in worldly environments. What grieves my heart is seeing it in the Christian environment.
As Christians we often put down corporate America and how they operate but if we think about it, but this same attitude can creep into the church. People who want to make a name for themselves amongst other Christians. Christians who will malign, hurt, walk over other Christians so that they are more popular, more well known. Christians wanting to climb the ministry ladder.
I remember my husband telling me about a conference he was at-he was having a converstation with another pastor and as soon as 'some big name pastor' walked by, the other guy rudely left his conversation with Jim to rub shoulders with the 'better known pastor'. It really hurt him to witness this kind of behavior. Imagine how it grieves the Lord's heart when we act this way.
To what extent will a Christian go to make a name for him or herself? At what cost?
Isn't it enough to know that our Heavenly Father knows our name? When all is said and done that is all that matters. It isn't going to credit a person one bit to say they know so and so and this pastor asked him to do this and that guy sat with me, etc etc etc.

Do you ever picture the story of Mary Magdalene in the garden and suddenly Jesus says her name-Mary, and right away she knew it was Him. I think her heart may have melted within her to hear her Beloved Jesus say her name. It wouldn't have mattered to her if noone else on earth knew who she was-it only mattered that He knew her name. It's so precious to me when I think about it.

Last year we had to choose a woman from the bible to teach one for the girl's discipleship class. I had it in my mind to study Ruth or Esther but God had a different plan. He led me to Luke 8:1-3 where it talks about the different women who ministered to Christ. In verse 3 it says 'and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod's steward, and Susanna, and many others who provided for Him from their substance.' The 'many others' were who we did the study on. We don't know their names, but God does! We talked about being content to be 'one of the others' whose name may not be known, whose name may not be printed in the program, whose name may not be easily recognizable by the 'whose who in Christian circles'. These women served the Lord and it wasn't important that their names be known. I think of how many wives in the Bible we don't know the names of. Noah's wife...we only know her as Mrs. Noah. Sometimes I wonder if the story was being written now and I had the chance, I would want to nudge someone to put my name in there because after all, being married to Noah couldn't have been too easy...who builds an ark in those days! Give me some credit please!

Oh may we serve the Lord with everything we have regardless if we are known for it. Be overjoyed that our Jesus, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords knows our name.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Got internet??

A couple weeks ago, the phone rang and Mr Lovey was asked for by name. I gave the phone over to him and thought nothing of it. About a half hour later my curiosity got to me, wondering who could be engaging my husband for such a long period of time. He soon hung up and I inquired as to who was on the other end. "Oh, we are getting a 'new and improved, lower rate phone and internet service'". I quizically looked at him, wondering if I heard correctly and I believe a "You've got to be kidding me" response came out. After all, haven't we all been warned time and time again that if it sounds too good to be true then it probably is.
I decided to investigate 'said service' on the internet to see what kind of reputation they had. I quickly realized that they made lots of promises that resulted in people hearing their problems would be taken care of in a week and 45 days later they are still waiting!! "Please call them and tell them no, dear" were my words.
Fast forward to Monday morning-I go to turn on my computer and the internet usually pops on automatically. To my surprise-no internet! Gee, I wonder what happened!! I quickly storm calmly walk into the room to yell rationally speak to Mr. Lovey about this problem. To the phone he went, dialing the number to this 'new and improved' company to find out what is happening. I am certain that all the while he was dialing he was praying that this was some mix-up that would quickly be resolved by the time he hung up the phone. Nope, not going to happen that way. I hear him say things like "but the guy promised there would be no interruption of service, he told me nothing would go wrong" In the meantime, I am sitting there moving my leg back and forth at such a rapid pace I could have won any race had there been one. While waiting for Mr Lovey to get off the phone my head filled with all the different things I could say to him once he hung up. How I longed to have my say! But after a bit, a voice kept saying "drip drip, nag, nag" What?? No, go away, then louder, drip drip, nag nag...until I finally had to get up and go out of the room.Stomping Walking away, you would have thought that I was elated, overjoyed, running to find my journal to write such sweet words of adoration that I had been stopped from spewing out torrents of phrases to belittle and put down Mr. Lovey over this issue. After all, I was right!! I knew I was right and I wanted to rub it in remind Mr. Lovey that he did, after all, marry Mrs. Right! Ah, but the Holy Spirit was more powerful-the Lord had such grace upon Mr. Lovey and wouldn't let those awful words come out and make him feel worse than he already did! Slowly, I succumbed to the realization that being Mrs. Right isn't always the best thing-especially at the cost of inflicting meanness upon the one I love. (now mind you, it doesn't always end this way-I still have lots of growing to do.)


Poor Mr. Lovey-he had to phone the company that we originally had the service with and tell them we want our service back (being informed that it can take several days-we are now on day 3 of no service) Then, we receive a note from the 'new and improved' guys that our service has now been activated-really? I think their version of activation just means "hey, we gonna start chargin ya now even if it ain't workin yet" . In the meantime, Mr. Lovey had to buy this little contraption that goes into the computer and gives you so many hours of internet service.

It's quite a drag because I keep forgetting to disconnect it every time I am away from the computer-usually we just leave the internet on so this is a hard thing to remember!!

I think I did manage to get in one "well you know I am usually right" but I said it with a smile so maybe that's ok???? And Mr. Lovey responded "no, you're not always right". Hmm, guess we'll have to work on that one!

And to think that some people think we Christians have boring lives! I guess they don't know too many of us huh!

Praise the Lord for lessons learned, attitudes adjusted, Holy Spirit power and bad thoughts repented of!

I best be getting off the computer now! The clock is ticking :)