Ephesians 3:20-21 (New International Version)

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Growing In Christ

Newborn babies...aren't they just the most wonderful thing to look at and hold?  As we cradle them, we often find ourselves so wrapped up in how sweet they are that we say things like, "oh, if you could only stay little."  Yet, we know that wouldn't be anything we would really wish on the child.

Christians are much the same way when we see a new born Christian.  The excitement and glow about a new Christian is just as wonderful to hold.  If they'd only stay that way..... but, really? 

If growth charts were available for Christians as they are for newborns, what would ours look like?  It would begin at birth (our new birth in Christ) and would naturally continue to build.  I'm sure we would see growth spurts and plateaus (periods of no growth).  The growth spurts might be accompanied by hardships or during times of Bible Study Groups.  The worst thing we might see is a backwards trend...which couldn't happen on a physical growth chart. 

So the question is; what does my spritual growth chart look like?  Where am I now? 

We all have lots of growth to do.  It takes effort for spiritual growth; it's like physical growth.  It's not easy!  Yet, if there were a spiritual growth chart...what would mine look like?

Thursday, August 9, 2012

When Manners Don't Count And Boundaries Aren't Built

For those of us who were built with the importance of manners...
* If you borrow something, send it back in better shape than it was in when you obtained it.
* Don't wear out your welcome.
* Don't burn bridges (speaking of friends, not real bridges).

This makes it difficult for us to understand the compassion of our God.  Sometimes it seems like I have worn out the relationship.  For example, how many times do I totally screw up by gossiping, over spending (greed), or total glutinous behavior?  After asking for forgiveness, believing I have recieved it...but falling back into the same behavior, I feel like it's ridicoulous to ask for forgiveness again.  It's simply not good manners.  I THINK God will tire of my refusal to learn, that He will be angry with me (rightly so), and that He will build a boundary not allowing me back in. 

On the contrary, our God is much bigger than that.  He knows us...he created us with our own will.  I think my strong willed personality is enough to push many away...why not God, too.  Yet, Nehemiah ch 9 illustrates a God that continues to love us in good times and in bad times.  He allows us to venture off, create our own mistakes, and find our need for Him.  He's always there, waiting again and again, when we come back with a repentant heart.  I am soooo thankful for the undying love He shows us in this chapter of Nehemiah. 

Nehemiah 9: 28 “But as soon as they were at rest, they again did what was evil in your sight. Then you abandoned them to the hand of their enemies so that they ruled over them. And when they cried out to you again, you heard from heaven, and in your compassion you delivered them time after time. (NIV)

..... time after time...after time... after time...  What an awesome God!

Sunday, August 5, 2012


The study of Nehemiah has really been an adventure...an eye opening walk into places I've visited by not really camped upon.  After the wall of Jerusalem was rebuilt and those who were taken into bondage were allowed to return their home, Ezra opened the book of Moses and read to them from the town square. All the people listened and understood.

A revelation occurred to them on this occasion...the seventh month, the seventh day...a day God set aside to remember the time he rescued them from Egypt.  This week was to be spent in booths...a way to remember how God was with them through a really rough time.  What it must have meant to them...having just been released from bondage of Nebuchadnezzar.  What a reminder this must have been...God is with us.

Today, we have set aside ways to remember the great things God has done for His people.  We remember how he gave His life as a ransom, a perfect sacrificial lamb, given to us for our sin through the communion service, or the Lord's Supper.  We also remember Him through the steps of baptism and how we become a new man, washed in the blood of Jesus.

Yet, what do we do to remember the wilderness walks?  The times when we felt alone on an undesirable journey?  He never left us.  As a matter of fact, He led us through it.  Yet, we would much rather forget the bad stuff.  Who wants to talk about it?  Who wants to relive it? 

This walk with Nehemiah has reminded me that it is important to remember those times.  My God never left me in those periods.  During the times of loss, the times of financial need, sickness, etc.  my Savior walked me through it.  I'm almost ashamed of myself.  I need to remember those times and to sing praise to the One that led me through the Valley. 

I no longer dwell on those places, yet I must not forget them either.

Friday, July 27, 2012

It's About People Not Programs

A common sight in my community and the surrounding area...the old church/one room school house.  One can't help but wonder what happened to the people that once went to church there.  Did the church grow and rebuild elsewhere?  Did it die with the people who started it?  A church that never grew?  Why does it stand alone?

Sometimes I wonder if we forget what it's really all about...Christ told us to "feed my sheep".  Did we forget?  The command wasn't about anything but the welfare of His sheep. 

As a cattle farmer's wife, I understand the care needed to keep the herd healthy.  It's really all about the cows.  Each day we make sure their needs are met; food, water, shelter.  We don't argue about the color of the barn, it's more about which type of feed is best for the money we have. 

Comparing cattle to people is not my point.  Yet, sometimes we forget the people and it becomes about the program and whose idea is going to be carried out, the set up, the right songs, etc.  Really, it needs to be all about meeting the needs of God's people.  If the church fails to meet the need of God's people, the building will be left in ruins. 

In the book of Nehemiah, ch 7... the wall has been rebuilt.  The first mission is complete.  Yet, it wasn't just about the wall...it was about restoration of God's people.  Now it's time to move back into the shelter of God's wall of protection.  The whole time, it was really about God's people...

Is 43:2-4  Don't be afraid, I've redeemed you.  I've called your name.  You're mine.  When you're in over your head, I'll be there with you.  When you're in rough waters, you will not go down.  When you're in between a rock and a hard place, it won't be a dead end - Because I am God, your personal God, The Holy of Israel, your Savior.  I paid a huge price for you; all of Egypt, with rich Cush and Seba thrown in!  That's how much yo mean to me?  That's how much I love you.  I'd sell off the whole world to get you back, trade the creation just for you.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Who Have You Helped Today?

The essence of family...we stick together!  No matter the sacrifice, we are family and we do what we need to do for each other.  Once, my Aunt Gladys reminded me that God created the family BEFORE He created the church.  Wow!  Wasn't that an eye opener!  Let's dig even deeper, with closer examination we find the church is really a picture of God's FAMILY!  So really, the sacrifice doesn't stop at my front porch (although I really believe it must start there...).  Interesting thoughts to ponder upon, don't you think? 

In Nehemiah, chapter 5, I was astounded to find the Israelites (God's chosen people, His family, the early church) oppressing others in the family.  It came with an astounding, "Really...What are you thinking!"

5:9-11 What you're doing is wrong.  Is there no fear of God left in you?  Don't you care what the nations around here, our enemies, think of you?  I am my brothers and the people working for me have also loaned them money.  But this gouging them with interest has to stop.  Give them back their foreclosed fields, vineyards, olive groves, and homes right now, and forgive your claims on their money, grain, new wine, and olive oil."

Nehemiah didn't even collect taxes from those in need (although it was legal and he could).  He found the people had it hard enough as it was.  Nehemiah 5:17 -19

Here was a nation, living in appalling conditions.  Those who had money collected even more...from those who didn't have it to give.  Doesn't that sound crazy!?  What's necessarily legal doesn't mean it's ethical!!!!!  nor does it mean it is right in the eyes of our Father! 

This has really burdened my heart today.  Are there people living amongst my community that I haven't helped when the opportunity came along?  Worse yet, did I place undo burden on those who needed a helping hand?  What am I doing for my extended family?  My brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus...I don't have much...yet, I don't want to be found guilty of hording what God has given me to share. 

Jesus gave it all....

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Beyond the Rubble

Recently, I drove some of my favorite "old lady friends" (a term of affection, really!) to brunch at one of our favorite tea rooms in Ozark, MO.  We planned to arrive upon opening; talking and having a good time, we arrived 30 minutes after opening and found very few parking places open.  Fortunately, I drive a small car and found a space open near the trash dumpster.  Ugghhhhh, it wouldn't be my first choice but it would be fine.

After a fantastic time of antique shopping and brunch, we brought our treasures and full tummies back to the car...parked at the trash dumpster.  As I was unlocking the doors and letting all the hot air out of the car, I noticed the view beyond the dumpster.  It was absolutely stunning! 

A picture beyond my expectations, beautiful greenery in what seems like a dust bowl.  We've had 100 degree temperatures for what seems like a very very long time.  In Missouri, we are experiencing a vicious drought!  Yet, hidden beyond the rubble was a small oasis of green leaves and a small trickling of water; most likely spring water bubbling up from the ground.  It was so stunningly beautiful, I reached for my camera to try and capture it's elegance.  Unfortunately, I'm not a photographer.  My picture couldn't capture the sound of trickling water, the sun shinning between the green, lush leaves, the peaceful serenity and beauty from behind the dumpster.

This reality beyond the rubble brought me back to a hidden truth found in Nehemiah 4:10 "The strength of the laborer fails, since there is so much rubble.  We will never be able ro rebuild the wall."  The Isrealites has so much rubble to deal with while rebuilding the wall, it was really hard to see past all the "yuck"!  Often in my life, I can get caught up in what lies in front of me, rather than what lies ahead of me.  If we could just visualize beyond the rubble or simply trust God's Word, God's Work, and His unfailing love...trust that something beautiful lies beyond the rubble.  

Can I let go of the vision of rubble and trust that God has a plan?  His plan is perfect and better than anything I can imagine.  Eph 3:20 (NIV)20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us  

Let Go Of The Rubble, Look Beyond Today...It's Immeasurabley More Than We Can Ask or Imagine!!!!!   

Monday, July 16, 2012

Act or React: I Choose to Act!

Today marks a day in history I will never forget.  My grandmother, a woman whose imprint in my life will always be noticed, passed into Heaven's Gates.  She was surrounded by her children and grandchildren as she looked up and gazed toward the ceiling in amazement and took her last breath.  She left a wonderful legacy behind; a model for her family to follow. 

My grandmother, Agnes Dillon, raised her children and grandchildren with Biblical precepts.  She wouldn't/couldn't lie...not even a little bit.  For example, once the phone rang and I asked her to answer it.  If it was for me, I wanted her to tell them I was in the shower.  Her reply was simple, "You better get in there before I answer it then!"   

I can't help but think of her when I read today's study in Nehemiah chapter 4.  As the Israelites were rebuilding the Wall of Jerusalem, dignitaries mocked them, trying to stir trouble or cause a fight.  Rather than REACT, Nehemiah stood by what he knew to do.  His first act was to pray; asking for God's hand on the situation. He also posted a guard to watch for trouble or meet the threat.  I notice Nehemiah wasn't plotting his revenge, he continued in the work that was at hand.  The Israelites weren't side-tracked with the appearance of impending attacks! 

How many times have I REACTED to cruelty or rude remarks?  This is my big ahhhh-haaa, that's a good way to get side-tracked or even thrown off track!  Prayer would keep my focus where it needs to be.  Guarding my heart and mind is the work I need to be about, letting  God guard me while I act in obedience. 

Friday, July 13, 2012

Building Up The Body of Christ

The study of Nehemiah has stirred my heart.  The walls of Jerusalem, broken and in serious need of repair, could be rebuilt.  Nehemiah, burdened for the disgrace of his people, set the wheels in motion to rebuild the gates and restore the grace of God's people.  

It wasn't a one man job.  It took the talents of everyone to rebuild the city.  Men, women, mayors, villagers, laymen, ... it took the skills of everyone to build up Jerusalem.  Each talent was needed.  It's much like a picture of today's church.  It takes all of us to build up the body of Christ.  Each of us play an important role, no one is more or less needed.  Am I as zealous as Nehemiah?  Am I as zealous of the Israelites?  What am I doing for the body of Christ?  It can be rebuilt!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

The Prayer of a Righetous Man Availeth Much

James 5:16

The study of Nehemiah...a beautiful reminder of the power of intercessory prayer.  The prayer of one; just one person...and how that prayer changed the lives of so many.  Much like the prayer of Moses for the Israelites.  Both men prayed for the forgiveness of their people, themselves included.  I find it beautiful and awe inspiring how God heard the prayer of these men and forgave the lives of many. 

James 5:16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. (NIV) 

Nehemiah, greatly moved by the conditions of his people, a group of individuals he didn't know, but he was yet a member of the family.  He was so moved by word of their trouble and disgrace that he was moved to pray day and night...for four months!  How often do I see a need, within my family, my community, my daily life that for moments my heart melts and feels empathy?  Yet, ultimately that's where it stops.  I might even pray a brief prayer and move on.  Yet, have I earnestly and fervently prayed when those nudges fall into my path?

Are we, as Christians, a group of those who move and act on behalf of our Savior?  I know that I'm falling short of this call.  Yet, Nehemiah has reminded me to be a person of action.