Wednesday, October 30, 2013

What we hold tightly- Forgiveness Pt 1

Forgiveness is messy. There are times when the one offending us does not repent, and we cannot reconcile the relationship. There are times when it is so much easier to nurse our wounds and hold our grudges more tightly than we hold our loved ones. I’m excited that Caz is going to walk us through what forgiveness looks like in practical terms, because sometimes it is hard to know if we have really forgiven someone.
            I do know that when an issue keeps being brought up, forgiveness has not taken place (This week I’m speaking of situations when the offender is repentant). If we’re waiting for someone to mess up again and prove us right, again, forgiveness has not taken place. We can’t fool anyone by saying we have forgiven someone but create barriers or rehearse our justified anger. I think when forgiveness has truly taken place, the offender has to face guilt, and decide whether or not to change. The one forgiving must release. Both can only be done with God’s mercy.
Let’s learn to walk this line of forgiving others enough to heal the relationship, but not enough to enable them to continue unhealthy behavior. This more than anything else is critical for a healthy relationship- marriage in particular.
What do you need to be forgiven for? What do you need to forgive?   Let’s search ourselves and bring darkness into the Light. Let’s allow God to create pure hearts in us.


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

our trees

I loved having church on our property. God blessed us with clear skies. I loved Caz’s message about a little boy brave enough to share what he had. We’re taking an important journey together as a church, and I wanted to share a book that has really changed my perspective on money. It’s called Money, Possessions and Eternity by Randy Alcorn.
            It’s not a book about budgeting but more of a philosophical book about the role money should play in our lives. He’s very moderate. I remember at one point in the book he said he and his wife went on vacations, because it nurtured their relationship. After Ben and I read it we decided to tithe more, although we were not at a place where we could give 10% yet. Instead we committed to give 10% of any moonlighting income and slowly increase our regular tithe until we were at 10%. God has blessed us, I think partly because of this decision.
            I’m not going to shake my Bible and say everyone needs to give more (I don't like guilt as a motivator), but I do encourage you to read the book and explore some questions: How are we going to get to a place where we can build on our beautiful land, and watch our children play under the oak trees generations before us played under? How are we going to grow our wonderful church?
            My prayer is that God will increase the incomes of each family, so we can all give more. I pray that we give out of joy and conviction and not guilt. I pray God gives us wisdom in our financial decisions. And let’s keep joining together under these large trees, under the great clouds of witnesses of those who have gone before us.


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

our treasure

In Caz’s sermon on Sunday he talked about how the Bible was written as story (not meaning that it is not true, but as opposed to a manual or encyclopedia).  God wired us to be drawn to stories. It is why we get lumps in our throats when watching a touching T.V. show, even though we know that it is fiction. Is it how we remember lessons from the Bible- the Prodigal son, a baby placed a basket in a river.  God created us to be touched by the personal.
            John Gardner contends in his book “On Moral Fiction” that the highest purpose of literature is to make us want to be better people. That thought stuck with me more than any other lesson in graduate school, and it is why I defend writing as my primary ministry.  (If you don’t enjoy reading literature it means you’re not reading the good stuff. Come see me for a reading list.) The Bible is the finest piece of literature as it is God-breathed. It is a beautifully written, true story.

 The story needs to change our lives. Daily.

God came to earth as a man, and sacrificed His life to save us from our sins. There is no better story than that. There is no greater truth. As Caz said, the Bible is all we have from God, and it is all we need.
            How much would our lives change if we dwelled in the Word daily? If we filled our minds with God’s truth before facing our world? If we had the wisdom and discernment from Scripture at the forefront of our minds?  Let us treasure the unmatched love letter God wrote to us.


Wednesday, October 9, 2013

little stones

I dare anyone to watch the second video of the week “Why is there Pain and Suffering” and not cry. I love hearing stories of people feeling God’s presence in a very real way when they are suffering. If we can feel God in our suffering, then there is a comfort in that.  If we can’t, let us be on our knees crying out to feel His presence. As I said before, I certainly don’t have a complete answer for why God allows suffering and would run from anyone who claimed to know very specifically why God allowed a certain event to happen. What I do know is that God uses everything for His purpose, even when it is really miserable for us on earth, and that the Holy Spirit cries out for us with groaning that cannot be uttered (Romans 8:26).  What I do know as a mother is that there is nothing worse than allowing my daughter to feel the pain of her choices and see her not learn. If I am suffering, I don’t want to miss whatever God is trying to show me about myself or about His love.  I see people have hard things happen to them and become bitter martyrs. I’ve also seen people have horrible things happen and become more compassionate and kind.  I listen to very little Christian music, but I love the artist Nicole Nordeman. Her song “Rolling River God” is a beautiful piece about pain. It contains this line: “Little stones are smooth only once the water passes through.”  If we must endure pain, let us become more beautiful through it.