Mastering the Reading Challenge

This past year, 2018, was a challenge year for me. I usually consider myself a pretty consistent person when it comes to staying in the Word. But my idea of consistency isn’t really all that great. Prior to this past year I can truthfully say that I was consistent at being inconsistent, if you know what I mean. I would go through periods of heavy personal Bible study and prayer, then slack off for a week or more, my quiet times with God a bit dotty.

So at the beginning of the year last year I decided I needed a change. I needed a challenge to keep me on my toes and…wait for it…consistent. So I searched online for a solid-looking Bible reading plan that seemed both doable and challenging. I found one that I liked that would have me read through the entire Bible in 52 weeks. IT. WAS. AWESOME. I did indeed finish my plan within the 52 week period. Sadly, I did NOT read my Bible every single day, but I did do fantastically better at being consistent!

If being consistent is such a challenge for me, how did I beat the challenge? One word – accountability. A year is a long time, and when we factor in our busy schedules, regular habits, kids, school, errands, familial obligations, vactations, etc., most of us can find some way to forget the challenges and goals we’ve set for ourselves to accomplish. My accountability looked something like this: a printout of the Bible plan kept on the inside of my Bible case with the dates for each week in the margin, questions from our church small group peeps about what I’d read that week, and phone calls from and to family asking what I’d been studying recently.

I would not have made it through the year if I didn’t have that physical reminder sitting in my Bible every time I opened it or those pointed questions asked of me. There were a few times when I’d let myself get too busy (another topic in and of itself) to open my Bible, but when I DID open it next, I’d see my chart and the last date and check mark I’d written and realize how great an error I’d made. Then I’d have to play catch-up, and sometimes catching up was tough. There are sections of Scripture that are better read in smaller incraments, and I’d have to read those plus the ones I needed to be on. Let me tell ya…the times I’d miss became fewer and fewer.

I didn’t start this plan with the aim to solely read through the Bible. I wanted to read to learn…to understand better. I can honestly say that at some point in my life or another I’d read each of the books of the Bible separately, but I’d never read it as a whole. I wanted to see the Bible in it’s entirety. If I were to read, say, Romeo and Juliet, I wouldn’t pick it up every now and again and read sporadic chapters. I’d probably never get a good grasp and understanding of the story. I feel – now – the same about the Bible. At least once in every believer’s life, he/she needs to read through the Bible as a whole.

In my reading I was able to focus closer on stories that are lesser known and really see them – I mean really see them. At some of them, I know I gasped out loud in amazement at the gravity, wonder, or intensity of them. I marveled at the human condition of sin and how incredibly horrid we are as a people at seeing our vicious cycle of failure and the magnificence of God’s grace and mercy. Naturally, we see better in hindsight, especially when we’re reading others’ stories. Yet we have such trouble looking at ourselves. Reading the Bible as a whole helped me look at myself. It helped me ask myself how I was similar to each person or people group I read about.

Now that I have completed my challenge and read through the whole Bible, am I done? NOPE! Reading it through made me want an even deeper understanding. Have you ever read a book so good that it will never get old, not matter how many times you read it? That’s exactly what the Bible is like. It is so chock full of wisdom, intrigue, love, failure, forgiveness, wonder, and mystery that it will never, ever, ever get old.

Hebrews 4:12 says, “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and peircing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” Did you see that? It’s living and active. The Holy Spirit teaches us something new each and every time we open the Word. It will never be boring. Sometimes it gets tough, sometimes it is gentle, sometimes it is shocking….but it never gets old and it never is void.

What now? I need to keep going! I’ve created a fantastic habit that I have no intention of losing. Will I ever miss a day again? Probably. I’m human and fallible. The difference is I don’t WANT to miss another day. Reading the Bible is like reading a letter from someone I love, written just for me. Everytime I read it my desire for my Jesus grows ever deeper. Why would I want to forego intimacy with Him?

I now, therefore, issue this challenge to YOU, reader! Pick up that dusty copy of God’s Word and find a reading plan! Stick to it – even if sometimes you have to play catch-up. Below is the link to the one I used – it’s a great one! You don’t have to read through in a year. You can one pick from the myriad of plans available that best fits you and your schedule. The important thing is to read daily! Make a habit of reading to understand, not just check off a box. Get to know the God who made you and loves you and wants an intimate relationship with you.

If you ever need to chat about how to get started, feel free to leave a comment and I’ll do my best to help. If your reading leaves you asking lots of questions, feel free to ask me or find someone you trust – and ASK! Write your questions down as you go and get those answers. My bet is that the more you read, ask, and get answers, the closer you’ll feel to your Savior, and you’ll be left wanting more of Him.

52-week Bible Reading Plan https://myipg.wordpress.com/2011/01/31/variety-bible-reading-schedule/
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Resolutions, Goals, and Faithfulness

Happy New Year, reader! It’s a new year and a new day with so many possibilities. With this new year, I wish you all the success and blessing it’s possible to receive.

So…show of hands…who made a New Year’s resolution? Anyone? My guess is that at least some of you did. You may even have made the same resolution that you have made for the past several years. Some of you may not have made any New Year’s resolutions, but chose instead to set some goals or a plan of action for the year.

So what’s the difference? A resoltion is defined as a firm determination to do something. A goal is defined as the result or achievement toward which effort is directed; aim; end. Based on the definitions, resolutions are the decision to do something, and a goal is the end game toward which the resolution is directed. I believe they work best together.

So why do some of us make a big deal about this? I submit that when we say we’re making a resolution, we’re silently or otherwise telling ourselves and others that we will definitely do the thing we’ve set out to do. When we say we’re setting a goal, we give ourselves some wiggle room to say, “Well, I did/didn’t reach my goal,” and feel okay that we didn’t. We don’t like to think of ourselves as failures, and that wiggle room helps us feel less so if we don’t achieve our aim.

The problem with that wiggle room is we’re allowing ourselves to be unfaithful. What’s the big deal with faithfulness? Ask anyone you know who has experienced the sting of unfaithfulness what the big deal is and you’re sure to get a swift and passionate response. Faithfulness matters in our relationships with other people, with ourselves, and with God.

There’s no getting around it. The degree to which we are faithful in each of these three areas will affect our lives in monumental capacities. Think for a second about the last time you went on a diet. How faithful to it were you? If you fudged a little one day, following through on your diet was just that much harder the next day. If the person who has an alcohol, drug, or smoking addiction gets sober for a while, then partakes of the old habit just one time, it’s almost like having to start all over again with the sobriety/clean/non-smoking process. Or consider the person who says they will finally sit down to read their Bible every day this year, then skips a day or two. Oh how easy our resolve can be broken!

The Bible talks about this in 1 Corinthians 5:6b: “Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough?” In other words, allowing just a little wrong or off-track choice affects everything. This passage, in context, is referring to what happens when you allow immorality amidst the church, but I think the same principle can be applied to our personal habits.

What did we say earlier? None of us like to consider ourselves (or be considered by others) failures. When do we fail? When we are unfaithful to our resolve and to our goals; when we slip up and make a wrong choice. Is there any hope? For after all…not one of us is perfect.

In a word – YES! There is assuredly hope for each of us. But it isn’t found within ourselves. We can’t succeed if our success depends solely on us. We must place our habits, goals, and resolve squarely in the hands on the One who is faithful in ALL things, then fave faith that He will indeed help us see our goals through.

What is faith and how am I supposed to have it? Hebrews 11:1 defines faith in this way: “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” So if we are being faithful, we are leaning and trusting on that which can see what we cannot as we chase after our goals with resolve, and who can do that but God? Who can successfully navigate all of life’s hurdles and come through smelling like a rose? Only God. And He is well aware of our tendency to fall off the bandwagon and make poor choices. Hebrews 11 is chock full of people who were considered faithful, so much so that they are mentioned by name in this chapter. But if you read the rest of the Bible, you’ll find that all of these people also had a slew of shortcomings. They were by no means perfect, just like you and me.

God therefore offers grace to us. He offers us the opportunity to learn from our mistakes and…yes…failures. He offers us the magnificent blessing of the Holy Spirit’s guidance (assuming you have chosen to believe in the saving work of Jesus Christ on the cross and His glorious resurrection) on a daily, moment-by-moment basis. We are never ever alone. We always have a Helper.

How did we get here from talking about resolutions and goals? Because faithfulness to them matters. And we need to understand faithfulness in order to execute it well. Faithfulness is best understood in the context of relationships with others and with God. Get a grasp on what faithfulness is, and perhaps that resolution or goal you’ve been aiming at for the last ump-teen years will finally be reached.

 

Grace and peace to you all, and may 2019 be the year that you reach that long awaited goal by being faithful to your resolve!

The Call of Hosea…and YOU!

If you have never read through the book of Hosea, I encourage you to read it. In it, God instructs Hosea to be a living picture of Israel, its blatant sin, the consequences of that sin, and how that will play out. Yet, God says, and demonstrates through Hosea, that He will still love Israel despite her sin. What a beautiful picture it is of God’s love for us, and of how much He loves mankind: “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinner’s, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
 
Hosea also issues a call to righteous living, both to the Israelites of his time and to God’s people (believers) today: “Sow with a view to righteousness, reap in accordance with kindness; break up your fallow ground, for it is time to seek the LORD until He comes to rain righteousness on you.” (Hosea 10:12) To understand it fully, you really should read the whole book and get the context. However, WHAT A CALLING! Let us work, and in our working, seek the righteousness of what we do and those in our circle of influence. Be kind in our harvest (generous and caring toward others). Share the gospel truth so that the Spirit may do its work in the hearts and souls of the lost. Fallow ground is land that has been idle and unused. The Spirit can soften and till up, so to speak, the ground (heart) of the lost to call them to Himself and saving faith.
 
As a nation and culture, we have fallen so far, just as Israel did. As verse 12 says, “it is time to seek the LORD until He comes to rain righteousness on you.” In other words, since we will never perfect in this life, we are to seek the LORD in ALL things until He rains down His righteousness (perfectness) on us when He comes back to call His people home. Our seeking Him in all things should never cease.
At the end of the book, God instructs us through Hosea. He says: “Whoever is wise, let him understand these things; whoever is discerning, let him know them. For the Ways of the LORD are right, and the righteous will walk in them. But transgressors will stumble in them.” (Hosea 14:9) We need to understand that turning from God leads to grave consequences, but that in spite of our disobedience and hard hearts, God does not forsake His people. His love will endure.
My prayer today is that you and I will take God’s instruction to heart and ACT on it! Where we fall short and sin, repentance is in order. When we are wronged (as God was wronged by Israel), we are to follow God’s example of forgiveness and agape love.
Agape love, God’s love, is unconditional. People aren’t God. They will disappoint, hurt, and be unloving toward us, just like you and I tend to do ourselves toward others. We must be willing to lavishly offer forgiveness and receive the forgiveness of others. When answering the call of Hosea 10:12, we must do so fervently. Search your heart. If you are hard-hearted, seek out the Lord by Scripture reading and prayer. He can soften the soil of your heart and remove the stones and weeds that keep you from a close relationship with Him. Seek out those with the hard, fallow hearts. Speak to them of God’s love and His beautiful gospel of eternal life by grace through faith in Jesus. Don’t stop. It is the calling of each and every child of God.
Oh people of God, be His LIGHT!
Grace and peace to you all.

The Futility of Angry Parenting

If you’re a parent, you’ve probably been there. You know the place. Your kids have been at each other’s throats all day long, and you’ve had it. You’ve tried to keep the peace. You’ve tried various disciplinary measures with a calm and collected demeanor, only to be met by sharp back talk, a rebellious eye roll, or a snippy, under-breathed comment. And what do you normally do at this point? If you’re like me, your anger gets the better of you. You’re the parent, dad nab it, and those kids ARE going to listen, be respectful and obey you! So what’s the problem? Don’t you have a right to be angry? Well, yes…and no.

Anger is justified if the situation truly warrants it and if it is handled properly. Every child is commanded to obey and respect their parents:

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER (which is the first commandment with a promise), SO THAT IT MAY BE WELL WITH YOU, AND THAT YOU MAY LIVE LONG ON THE EARTH.” Ephesians 6:1-3

But notice the little phrase some of us parents tend to overlook or ignore – “in the Lord.” Does that phrase give me or you as the parent license to get angry at our kids over petty or stupid things, or over things that simply annoy us and aren’t actually wrong or sinful? No. Is what your kid doing contrary to Scripture (which, by the way, is the standard God gives for us to measure by)? If not, perhaps we, the parents, need to check our own hearts.

Consider this: If you or I, the parent, get so angry that we let our anger lead us to make a poor judgment, what we model to our children is just a grown up version of their own outbursts to us – the same thing we ourselves are angry about. Further, if we have not checked our own motives for our anger, we may be guilty of sin above and beyond what we realize.

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For instance, if I am sitting at my desk typing and trying to come up with something witty and smart to say in a blog or social media post and my kid is in the background belting out their favorite song, doing nothing inherently wrong, I would not be justified in anger toward them because they were not acting in sin. The kid was simply singing and enjoying some free time. The aggravation and annoyance I may feel because it’s hard to concentrate is born out of a self-centered and self-serving attitude which has no foundation. Instead of anger, I could smile, remember he/she is only little once and that he/she is a precious gift from God, tell him/her that I’m glad so much fun is being had, and ask politely for the fun to move to another room so I can finish my task (or I could get up and take a break and join in). Rashly barking at my child to hush and go away will only discourage or belittle him/her, which goes against what God calls parents to do:

Train up a child in the way he should go; Even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6

What way should my child (or your child) go? Are they not all unique? Will they not all choose a myriad of life paths, none that look exactly like another? Yes, they most certainly are, and they most certainly do! However, we aren’t called to train them up in a particular profession, life path, or personality. Our calling is to train them up in light of God’s Word. Each child needs to know the truth and validity of Scripture, to study it to see if what others say about it is so (to be Berean – Acts 17:10-11), and to develop a loving, believing, and saving personal relationship with Jesus.

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If you have spent any length of time with a toddler, however, you know that what you say isn’t what’s always modeled (though sometimes it is, and we find out when we’ve made a blunder). More often than not, it’s what you do. Toddlers are beautiful and oh-so-accurate pictures of this truth. They will mirror everything you say and do. And though it may not be quite as evident in older kids, they still will follow this method of learning – mirroring.

So…do you want your kid mirroring your anger? Do you want them blowing up in your face (or at siblings…or, heaven forbid, someone outside your home) simply because they are annoyed? How can you scold, reprimand, or discipline your kids effectively if they are simply doing as you do?

I believe God gives mankind 18 years (or sometimes more, especially with multiple kids) of exclusive training in trust and dependence on HIM when we become parents. Parenting is a HUGE opportunity to learn to trust God’s wisdom, sovereignty, and plan. We can’t know the future. We don’t know what God has in store for us or our kids. What we DO know (or at least have the opportunity to know) is what He says in His Word – the Bible.

The book of Proverbs is chock full of wisdom. One such verse, found in Proverbs 19:11 says this:

“A man’s discretion makes him slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook a transgression.”

Discretion, or to be discreet, is defined by Webster’s dictionary as “thinking carefully before acting or speaking, cautious, not saying anything that is likely to cause trouble.”

Whew. And ouch. How many times I have retaliated back at my kids in the spirit of “I’m right, you’re wrong, I’m big, you’re little, I’m the parent, you’re the kid, and because of all this, my opinion and my word matters more than you!” I am pretty much a queen of causing more trouble than already exists!

And what is this statement that says “it is his glory to overlook a transgression”? Does that mean I just turn a blind eye when my kids transgress (sin, or do something wrong)? Nope. Not one bit. We are called to offer grace and mercy in our discipline just as God offers it to all of us. What is grace? Unmerited favor (i.e. – getting what you don’t deserve). What is mercy? Kindness and pity, forgiveness, willingness not to punish (in other words, NOT getting what you DO deserve). He gave both of these to us all when he sacrificed Himself on the cross, shedding his perfect blood for the payment of all sin, even though He was blameless and we are fully guilty. We are forgiven and restored, though we must still bear the consequences of our sin. He then went even further and rose from the grave on the third day, offering every man, woman and child that ever lived the gift of eternal life in heaven with Him. WOW! What a calling we are called to follow!

When a child makes a wrong choice, whether by omission (not doing what’s instructed) or commission (doing what’s been told not to do), parents are charged with these commands:

“Correct your son, and he will give you comfort; he will also delight your soul.” Proverbs 29:17

“He who withholds his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him diligently.” Proverbs 13:24

“Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you strike him with a rod, he will not die.” Proverbs 23:13

Does this mean we are to go grab the heaviest and/or most pain-inducing thing we can find and beat the tar out of our kids? Absolutely not! (For a deeper understanding of the term “rod” in these passages, please visit this site.) Child abuse is a very real thing, and nowhere in Scripture is it promoted. BUT – as Scripture states, discipline is necessary:

Hebrews 12:11 “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”

So, if our kids make a poor choice, a choice that is contrary to Scripture, which makes our anger justified, is it okay to lash out at them? Again…no. Here is where it is vital to check our parental anger. The Lord tells us through the Psalmist David (Psalm 4:4) and again through the Apostle Paul:

“BE ANGRY, AND YET DO NOT SIN; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity.” Ephesians 4:26-27

This instruction is two-fold: keep your anger in check but don’t let it brew and fester. When we discipline our kids, we need to be sure our discipline is timely and not doled out in anger. What is discipline, anyway? Webster defines discipline as the “training of mind or character.” What is correction? Webster defines this term as the process of setting right, removing mistakes from, or to point out and mark mistakes. We parents can choose to do this in anger, or we can choose a better way and do it in love. To discipline in love does not mean forfeiting firmness. It DOES mean that we seek to point out the mistake with the intention of setting it right and training the minds and character of our kids toward a Christ-like lifestyle.

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In our efforts to parent, can parents sin? Yes. Even if the parent is justified in being angry? Yep. Unfortunately many of us fall into this trap Satan has set. He knows that people sin. He knows we have a terrible sin nature. And he uses it to his advantage. If our kids sin and we blow up in their face because we’re angry at their poor choice, they will most likely only see our angry lash out, and therefore our own sin, instead of being able to learn from their mistake, repent, and receive the vital forgiveness they need. They won’t see God’s love, grace, and mercy exhibited through their parents when their parents don’t respond to them in a Christ-like manner.

Sometimes our kids make poor choices because they haven’t learned better, and sometimes they are testing limits. (The same is true for adults, for that matter. But I digress.) So how can we effectively keep our anger in check while at the same time doling out the discipline that the situation warrants?

  1. Seek God’s word first! Our own walk with God is vital to keeping our anger in check and taming our own tongues (a whole different subject in itself). If we aren’t in sync with the Lord ourselves, how can we ever expect to model Christ-like behavior to our kids?
  2. Take a time-out moment. Anger is a hard thing to master. We parents may benefit from a time-out in the heat of the moment. If we’re at home and are tempted toward anger when discipline is needed for our kids, perhaps we can either send them to their room for the immediate moment (or we can walk into another room ourselves) and take a minute to gauge our own motives. Plus, we can use this time-out to assess the situation and determine the appropriate form of discipline for the infraction. By doing this, we may be able to sidestep the trap Satan has set for us.
  3. Remember the purpose of discipline. We are charged with training up our children IN THE LORD. We want them to learn to seek God’s heart and to grow in Him. We can only do that if we discipline them based on His Word. If the child’s transgression falls in a grey area that is not specifically addressed in Scripture, we parents will benefit from seeking the Spirit’s wisdom and from a close personal walk with God ourselves. Our judgments should be based on what we know of God’s character and not on our self-serving opinions.
  4. Put on the armor of God DAILY. If you don’t know what the armor of God is, I encourage you to look up Ephesians 6:10-18. God provides everything we need to ward off Satan’s attempts to sabotage your parenting. If you are a believer in Jesus, you already have this armor! But it won’t do you much good if you don’t utilize it.
  5. Pray, pray, pray!

Is parenting hard? I think we all know the answer is yes. Is parenting any easier if you’re a believer? I’d venture to say no. Satan will try his utmost to keep your kids from becoming believers in Jesus. If your kids already have a saving, child-like faith in Jesus, Satan will do everything he can to hinder others from seeing Jesus in them and in you.

The temptations to sin in our anger will always exist so long as the Lord tarries in His return. However, take heart! You and I have graciously been given the tools we need to parent effectively and with success – and without falling prey to anger! Angry parenting will ultimately lead to sin and to a thwarted attempt at raising Christ-seeking kids.

With the school year now begun and in full swing, fight off the urge to lash out at your kids in anger if they make poor choices at school, at home, or while participating in extracurricular activities. We all get busy. Make sure that, despite your business, your parenting is Chris-focused.

Be the Light! Grace and peace to you all.

Kindness and Truth

My kids hear it from me all the time: “Kindness!” When they are interacting with others, I stress kindness. Do they listen? Not all the time. But when they do (and when I remember to practice it myself), their time together tends to be sweeter and more pleasant.

God has something important to say about kindness in Proverbs 3:3-4: “Do not let kindness and truth leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good repute in the sight of God and man.” 

He says that by being kind and truthful – and making it part of who you are in your every day living – you will find yourself in a place of favor both with God and with man. Who wouldn’t want to be a position to be favored by everyone, including God?

Consider this: If you consistently treat others with kindness and always speak the truth, what wrong can they hold against you? Nothing. That’s not to say accusations won’t ever come up against you. But any accusations hurled your way will fall away – they won’t be able to stand.

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If you have watched the live action Cinderella movie that came out in 2015, you might have noticed a theme that Cinderella lived her life by: “Have courage and be kind.” In the movie, Cinderella made it a point to exercise kindness to everyone, both man and beast, despite the cruelty and maltreatment she endured from her step-family. It wasn’t easy for her. She frequently had to have courage and believe that her kindness wasn’t in vain. In the end, however, her kindness won out because it made her stand out from the rest and exposed the cruelty and lies presented by her step-family.

Just like in the movie, truth and kindness are undeniably important to us in the real world. And just like Cinderella, being consistently truthful and kind may sometimes require a great deal of courage. If you find yourself wondering if your efforts are even worth it, and if you question why you should bother being kind to others when it isn’t reciprocated, take heart that the heavenly Father understands your predicament.

He even goes on in Proverbs 3:5-6 to give a little encouragement: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do no lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” 

God knows that we won’t always understand why others don’t return our kindness, and He knows that it isn’t easy. So, He tells us that since He is omniscient (all-knowing), omnipresent (all places at all times), and omnipotent (all-powerful), we can trust Him to lead us in the right way. He will make our paths straight. We can lean on Him when we don’t think we have the strength or courage to keep on being kind or to speak the truth when it’s hard. He is, after all, God. The One and Only God.

We are finite beings. We have a beginning and an end, and we are bound by time. God isn’t either of those things. He is infinite, He is the Creator, and has never had nor will ever have a beginning or an end. He knows everything. He tells us this in Proverbs 3:7-8: “Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your body and refreshment to your bones.”

It is sometimes easier to return ugly behavior and words to others when they are hurled our way, but God cautions us to consider the limitations of our wisdom. The fear He refers to in this passage isn’t that of being scared. It means reverence. Hold Him and His wisdom, instruction, and kindness in utmost respect and obedience. Doing so will be refreshing.

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Most of us have experienced the miserable feeling that occurs when we are at odds with someone else. If we give in to ugly words and actions because we feel wronged, can it ever truly help us feel better? Nope. Returning a wrong for a wrong will always make us feel yucky.

So what is the take-away? Kindness, truthfulness, and trust in God’s infinite wisdom and understanding will lead to favor and good repute with God and man, and will refresh you by knowing that you have followed the golden rule: treating others as you would have them treat you.

Join me as I endeavor to practice kindness and truthfulness and teach my family to do so as well. Let’s change our communities for the better by having courage and being kind.

God’s Mysteries, Our Blessings

img_3790Life can seem incredibly unfair. We look around us and wonder if God even cares. Good people seem to suffer some of the most horrific experiences, and those we might consider unworthy of anything good sometimes appear to have all the luck.

I have great news! Regardless of how terrible our circumstances or the circumstances of those around us unfold, God does mighty and awesome work. When our hope is lost, we can find joy in Him.

Yesterday, February 28, 2018, was the observance of Rare Disease Day. How do I know? I looked up odd holidays on Google. I found an amazingly long list of odd, crazy, and weird observance days we Americans sometimes get silly over. However, Rare Disease Day caught my eye.

I wondered how many people in my Facebook world endure a rare disease or are connected to someone who does. So I asked. I was amazed at the responses I received! I have never heard of some of the diseases and conditions reported by my friends and family, so I assume a large portion of the population hasn’t heard of them either. I am going to try to change that.

Rare diseases are just that – rare. You might be surprised, though, at how many of your friends and neighbors deal with a rare disease every day.  As we discover that so many people around us live with difficult sicknesses, disorders, and diseases, how can we know that God really cares?

God’s ways are a mystery. He has never tried to hide that from us. In Isaiah 55:8-9 God says, “‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ declares the LORD. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.'”

The Apostle Paul tells us his thoughts on the subject in Romans 11:33: “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!”

We will never understand why God does what He does, but that does not mean that we’re doomed. Often hearing the stories of those around us, or even our own hindsight, allows us a bit more of a glimpse into God’s mysteries. Those who have walked down the path of suffering in the shadow of God’s wing understand that even though bad things happen, much good can flow out of their suffering.

Over my next several posts, I hope to highlight several rare diseases and conditions and share the stories of those who live with them every day. Stay tuned to discover the mystery of how God makes good come out of something terrible, and how He uses the things this world considers unfair to bring about joy and blessings.

The Best Love

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Y’all….this is love.
“In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (1 John 4:10)
If you don’t know what propitiation is, let me help you see: it is an atoning sacrifice, or satisfactory payment. Jesus paid the price your sin costs, and satisfied the wrath of God…IN YOUR PLACE. The payment for your sin is forever paid, and His gift to you is receiving His righteousness (perfectness) applied to you for believing in Him: that He is the Son of God who became a man, lived a blameless life, gave Himself up for us to die on a cross, and defeated death and the grave on the third day by becoming alive again. HE LOVES YOU! It does not matter what kind of life you have lived thus far. He loves you. Your sin is already paid for. Believe in Him. Trust that His gift is true and sure, that He is who He says He is and did what He said He’d do (and IS doing)!
Happy Valentine’s Day!
This is easily one of my favorite songs.