Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Wet Blanket

Deuteronomy 8:5
Amplified Bible (AMP)
“Know also in your [minds and] hearts that, as a man disciplines and instructs his son, so the Lord your God disciplines and instructs you.”

I know a great man of God- a “Fire and Brimstone” - “Straight Arrow”, it’s “Black or White” old time preacher man- we’ll call him “Eldon”. My darling Phil and I were visiting Eldon’s church one Sunday, many years ago. On this particular Sunday, Eldon was delivering God’s Word to the flock when on the first couple pews, a few spirited young boys were acting up. Eldon saw these boys and right in the middle of his message, just like it was written in his script, he said “Boy’s, you better straighten up or I’ll get all over you like a wet blanket” and just like that, continued his sermon.

I sat there and thought… did he just say that? Yep, he did. Through the years whenever Eldon’s name has came up within a discussion I always think of that memory. And it’s made me question and really think about that verbage “wet blanket”.

Wet blankets are heavy, they cling to you and you really know they’re there because you can feel the weight. The lightest, fluffiest blanket can become heavy if it’s wet. Our lives can be like this at times. We can be experiencing a carefree season in our lives and then sin hits us and just like that, we feel the weight of our decision- the consequence.

The Bible tells us that God disciplines those He loves. He isn’t afraid to “get all over you like a wet blanket’. To call us out- to get our attention.

As a parent, I’ve had to discipline my children, and my grandchildren (that’s really hard by the way) but I do it because I love them. I want them to know right from wrong. I don’t want them to make the same mistakes I made. Some call it “tough love”. And without this kind of love, we’d be lost.

God loved us SO much, that He sent His Only Son to die for our sins… our mistakes, our wet blankets moments. How awesome is that? He loves us that much! What would we be like if He turned a blind eye? If He said “Oh, that’s OK”. He forgives-Praise God- He forgives, but we have to be disciplined at times. When we make mistakes, we need to feel the weight=the love that He gives us and because of that love- that Mercy we become better Christians and better Christians make better witnesses and stronger testimonies!

Father God, thank you for wet blankets! Thank you for your servant Eldon. Thank you that when I fail, you discipline. I praise you for tough love- a love I can’t live without. AMEN

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Blood is Thicker than Water

Blood is Thicker than Water

Acts 20:28
“28 •Be careful for [Keep watch over] yourselves and for all the •people [L flock] the Holy Spirit has •given to you to oversee [L made you overseers/guardians; John 21:16]. You must be like shepherds to the church of God,[a] which he •bought [or obtained] with the •death of his own Son [L with the blood of his own (Son); or with his own blood]. “
Expanded Bible (EXB)

We have a saying “Blood is thicker than water”; it’s supposed to imply that family, those who share the same blood lines, should be more important than those who don’t. It’s means loyalty to some- entitlement. It means standing beside your family above anyone else. It means your family may not always be right, but they’re still your family. We get to choose our friends or our acquaintances, but God chooses our families.

Blood is thick- if you’ve ever experienced more than a few drops at a time- you know, it’s THICK, it’s sticky and it doesn’t clean up easily. It’s so crimson red, it can almost look black. It has three main components: Red blood cells, which carry oxygen to all our tissues, White blood cells, which fight off infection so we don’t get sick and Platelets, which are smaller but help our blood to clot so we don’t bleed to death if we’re injured. So yes, blood is very important- it’s vital- we couldn’t live without it - It’s life giving.

I’m the coordinator at my workplace for our Blood Drives- Every third month; the Central Illinois Community Blood Center brings in all the tools they need to collect as much blood as they can from willing donors. Team members contact me and I make them an appointment to spend about 20 minutes giving blood, or as the CICBC like to say “give what’s in your heart”. I really like that slogan “give what’s in your heart”. And blood is something that is always needed- they never get enough of it.

I love my family, they aren’t perfect and our God knows if they were, they wouldn’t be after He gave me to them, but imperfections and all- they are mine. They do love me and they do stand by me. My family is very massive- my parents commented not long ago when we were all together- which if getting farther and fewer between, that all these folks we call family, started from just two people that fell in love. Families do that- they tend to grow, two people fall in love, have a few children, who later fall in love and have children and they have children… families grow. And the one common denominator- we all have the same blood. So blood is thicker than water…

So, is that it? Is that all there is? Blood is thicker than water- period? blood, Blood BLOOD…
Jesus + BLOOD +You + Me =FAMLIY. Same Blood.

What did Jesus do to make us family? What did it cost Him? What sacrifice did He make? What did He give? BLOOD- crimson,… thick,… sticky,… Blood.

I don’t know about you, but that makes me feel pretty special, pretty complete, and really really happy. I said earlier that blood has three different components: Red cells that carry oxygen- Jesus’ Blood gives us eternal oxygen, as a matter of fact- Jesus Blood gives us eternal life. Without that, we’d be lost forever. White cells, which protect against infection – Jesus’ Blood protects us from EVERYTHING, not just physical infection, but from spiritual and emotional infection. He is a barrier against all evils. And finally Platelets for clotting. Jesus’ Blood gives us the ability to not self -destruct, it gives us hope and a future, a reason to go out and spread the Good News.
His Blood completes the BIG picture. As Christians, it’s what binds us together; it’s what makes us ONE big family- the family of Christ. So see, we don’t have to have the same physical blood, because we have the same spiritual blood- the Blood of Jesus! AMEN? AMEN!

Father God, I am so thankful for the family you chose for me. They bring me such joy and I love them beyond measure. And Father, my Spiritual Family- Thank you! I am very blessed to have most of these two families intertwine. To share both overwhelms me. Lord, thank you for Your Blood that only you could give. And thank You that you gave it so freely and unconditionally so that we could spend eternity with you. -AMEN

Friday, June 6, 2014

The Race

“6 So be truly glad! There is wonderful joy ahead, even though the going is rough for a while down here.
7 These trials are only to test your faith, to see whether or not it is strong and pure. It is being tested as fire tests gold and purifies it—and your faith is far more precious to God than mere gold; so if your faith remains strong after being tried in the test tube of fiery trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day of his return.”
1 Peter 1:6-7 Living Bible (TLB)

I would like to share the words to a song that I have long loved. I’m unsure if it’s unfair of me to withhold the name of the author, but I’m not going to reveal that for my own reasoning.

“I see you struggling every day
You think, How long
Can I go on this way?
On and on
Again and again
Oh, when will it end?

You think, I just can't go on
Much longer
But inside, my friend,
Your faith is growing stronger
You feel the fire burning
Deep in your soul
But I want you to know

I think I see gold
I think I see gold in the fire
Right there in the ashes
Is all you've desired
Oh, it's hard
As you press toward the goal
Don't give up
Don't give in
Don't stop now
I think I see gold

Until this moment
You've always believed
When life grew darkest
By faith you could see
Open your eyes
Look for the light
You see, you were right

These lonely hours
Like a fire refining
Something that's precious
Something that's shining
There in the darkness
Surrounded by coals
Is starting to glow
I think I see gold
I think I see gold in the fire
Right there in the ashes
Is all you've desired
Oh, it's hard
As you press toward the goal
Don't give up
Don't give in
Don't stop now
I think I see gold
-Author Withheld

The Bible speaks so much about “running the race”, “pressing forward”, “being refined by fire”- it’s always encouraging, “don’t give up”.

No matter how strong your faith is- it can always be stronger. No matter how fast you run, you can always improve your time. No matter how optimistic you are, you can always cheer more. We’re never to give up- we’re never to give in.

I wasn’t much of an athlete when I was younger, but I played summer softball. I remember my coach telling me- “Don’t look back!”- “Don’t slow down”- “Run through”. As Christian that is SO true of our Faith.

I’m only speaking for MYSELF- please always know, I claim NO authority over you, I am a simple messenger.

In my lifetime- my personal race, I have been refined by fire may times. I have made mistakes that not only scarred myself, but others I love dearly. I have spent endless hours on my knees asking, praying-no pleading for forgiveness. Sobbing out to God to help me “make it right” again. Some of my sins have been so public, and still others have been behind closed doors that only He knows about. There have been times I wanted to stop running, there have been many times I simply kept running, but ran the wrong direction. My race slowed down sometimes and at other times sped up so fast I thought my heart would pound right out of my chest. I couldn’t catch my breath. My race has left me breathless, exhausted, sometimes peaceful and sometimes pathetic. It’s been up hills, down through valleys, along plains and even seemed at times beyond the clouds.

God is my Track Coach- He’s spoke to my heart and has said “Don’t look back”- and let me assure you- I can get SO caught up in looking back. The Great Lord has made us human, and as humans, we forgive, but oh,… is it so hard to forget. Isn’t it? It is so hard.

He’s told me “Don’t slow down”. At times, I’ve lost the momentum. There’ve been times, I’ve slowed to almost a crawl. I’m dragging- I’m on the ground begging to stop. But He’s never let me give up- Praise God!
He’s said “Run through!” I can see the goal, but I’m not there yet. I won’t be there until I pass the gold ribbon and enter His Gate of Heaven- AMEN?!?

Something I’m learning is- I love people, I love sharing life with people, being with people, talking and fellowshipping with people, but more importantly, I love God. And He could take everything and everyone I have today away from me. He could finish my race even before I finish these thoughts. It’s great having people in our lives, people in which we share our most intimate details, but it’s never to replace our race with Him. Our race is never for ourselves, it’s not for our family or for our friends. It’s not for our glory- it’s only for His.
So my dearest loved ones- run your race- listen to your Coach- press toward the ONLY Goal, that which is Christ Jesus and I’ll see you at the finish line!

Father God, Thank you for the race of life. Thank you that you have given me the opportunity to continue running, even when I’ve wanted to give up. And you KNOW how badly I’ve wanted to give up. Help me to keep my eyes on You and only You. Not to look back, not to give in or give up. I will praise only You Lord, until I have completed this life and spend eternity with You.