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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Flower Blooming in the Shade

"Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials; knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." James 1:2-4

Are you beat down and discouraged because every day is a fight to stay on top of things? Are you continually fighting battles you feel ill-equipped for? More than that are you losing ground? Has it all reduced you to "just getting by"? James says that these are productive times. The truth is that you are just like the plant that is not in the direct sunlight, but in the shade and blooming. Things may look bad and they may feel bad, but these are periods of growth that produce endurance which will result in perfection and completeness.

Paul has this to say: "For the God who said, 'Light shall shine out of darkness, is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing greatness of the power may be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in everyway, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing, persecuted, but not forsaken, struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. We we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus' sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh." 2 Cor. 4:7-11.

Are you afflicted, perplexed, persecuted and struck down? God is using you! Christian, you are a picture to the world of Jesus! Don't despair! These trying times are not unproductive. How you endure the worst this world has to throw at you, is your testimony to everyone around you that Jesus is alive. He is the treasure that is the shining light - His power - that carries us through it all. And this is what speaks to everyone around us. Don't fight it. Settle down into His arms and let Him fight this battle. Let Him part the Red Sea. How can anybody know He is a powerful and loving God if there is not the proof of a flower blooming in the shade?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Rights and Choices

I haven't been sleeping much lately due to pain, so I'm tired during the day. I forget things and my thinking is slowed. I wish it weren't so, but it is. I want things to be the way I want them to be. I want health and happiness. Is that wrong? I mean everybody wants that, don't they?
The truth is, we have come to believe that these things are our rights. Somehow, this is our due. Whether it is or it isn't is not really the issue. The fact of the matter is that the world does not run this way. Bad things happen all the time, and happiness is hard to find. Just open your eyes and see the injustice all around you. It's not just in your own life, but in every life. This is the condition of our fallen world. People have diseases; there is pain; there are unhappy endings; there is loss of every kind.............. It's rotten, but true. So I have to tell myself, to deal with the way things are. We can bang our heads against the wall, refusing to accept the inequity of it all, or lean on God to help us deal with things, strengthening us and getting us through to that place of hope that we long for, which WILL one day come for His children. 1 Peter 5:8-10 says. "Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. And after you have suffered for a little, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you."
We don't have a choice when it comes to suffering. We all suffer - Christian or non-Christian, good or bad, black or white, rich or poor, foolish or wise........ That's just the way it is. But we CAN choose how we go through it - with the help of God.......or without it.
Romans 8:28 says, "And we know that God causes all things to work together, for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purposes." He doesn't promise to remove the bad (though sometimes He does do that). He promises to get us THROUGH and to bring good out of the bad!
Take heart, Christian! Embrace the council God gave to Joshua - "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." (Joshua 1:9) WherEVER you go....... into loss of abilities, pain of the body, despair, or bondage to a body that cannot function....... wherever your pain takes you, remember this: "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? (Romans 8:35) And, "For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:38-39)

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Jesus is My Energy

With reference to the disease I have been diagnosed with and the questions I have, I have spent considerable time lately pondering what went wrong with my body........ I wonder what initial thing started the domino of misfunctions and mis-firings that I have come to know as Parkinson's Disease. In my thoughts I have been remembering some of what I studied in biology years ago. One topic that I have lingered over is a process called cellular respiration. This is a process (that involves more than one cycle of events) in which the body converts the energy in the food that we eat into a form that the body can use. It powers everything the body does.
Isn't it a picture of spiritual man?

1)We take in food (knowledge of God; God's love; or on the opposite side worthless knowledge, or "junk food").
2)We meditate on it (or digest it).
3)It is stored in the powerhouse of our hearts and minds
4)To be drawn upon at a later time to accomplish tasks

I will see whether or not I have taken in the right foods by looking at my accomplishments. It will reveal whether or not what I took in was able to produce the energy I needed to carry out the plans that were to fulfill my purpose. I'm not sure I am saying these things in a way that makes my point clear or not. But simply put: If I'm not hooked into the true energy - in the form that is useable to me - I can do nothing. What is the right energy form? Jesus Christ.
"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Philippians 4:13
"I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing." John 15:5

What Today?

In life, we work with what we have. We all have certain talents or gifts. By these gifts we are enabled to perform certain tasks and accomplish things. A gift or a talent is something that makes possible the extraordinary. It is the ability to do something that most people can't do.
When I was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease, - and indeed part of the reason I knew something was not right with my body, was that my "list" of things I could do began to get smaller. It has been a continuation since then of re-evaluating what I can do and how well I can do it.
We all have purpose in God's economy. Some of us have more gifts than others, but we all have "everything we need for life and godliness" according to 2 Peter 1:3.
I have found it to be true that whatever condition I find myself to be in, on any given day, I have been enabled by my Lord to function within that day in a way that pleases Him, and to accomplish things that no one else can.
Sometimes I'm tempted to believe that my life is a waste and makes no difference to anyone, but nothing could be farther from the truth. Jeremiah 29:11 says, "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
With every new day we have choices. They may not be the choices we would have liked, but they are choices that the Creator of all there is has given us. There is much to be thankful for and much to be in awe of. I choose to walk with gratitude and dignity today, doing my best to put my shoulder to the plow, and do the work He has suited me for. How about you?

Monday, August 2, 2010

Prayer Lists

Sometimes, the more problems I have, the more I talk to God. Wait a minute...... I should omit the word, "sometimes". That's definitely true. When my body is not functioning right, suffering drives me into the presence of God. That's all good. My expression of sorrow and pain to God on many levels is a healthy thing. My requests for healing are good. But sometimes prayer can become a long long list of things I want Him to change. It can even be lists of ways I think would be best for changing those things. I know I've gotten off the track when that's the bulk of my prayers.
This morning while at a Bible study and during a time of worship, I wrote this from my heart:

Heavenly Father,

I bow before You in stunned silence. I worship You without words. Unhindered by boundaries of speech or sight, but secure in all my knowledge of you - because You are who You say You are. You have proven Yourself by all You are and all You have done. You are my God and my Savior. O redeemer and lover of my soul, bring me perfectly through this world and into Your presence. My joy will know no bounds. O, Pearl of great price - nowhere in all of creation is there one like You. You are perfection. I cannot fathom the fulness of this truth - so I worship - wordless and in the silence that is mighty in praise for you. You are beautiful beyond description!

He will see to all that creeps up into my mind to worry me. I will remember not to dwell on worries, or waste time asking for what He has already given. I'm gonna rest because I trust Him.