Monday, September 24, 2012

Count Your Blessings

Friends of Faith:

It is best in life to count our blessings, because from every pain or sorrow we have the choice whether to choose earthly hurt or heavenly peace.
From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. This need not be so, my brothers. Does a spring gush forth from the same opening both pure and brackish water? Can a fig tree, my brothers, produce olives, or a grapevine figs? Neither can salt water yield fresh... Where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every foul practice. But the wisdom from above is first of all pure, then peaceable, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, without inconstancy or insincerity. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace for those who cultivate peace. James 3:10-13, 16-18

We have been blessed for the past 26 plus years to have in my mom’s life a friend and companion. Her husband, John, gave her joy by allowing her to fulfill her desires to travel across the country and by growing her groups of both family and friends. Their greatest joys together were the times any of us gathered in their home (especially the rare times it was the entire family) or that they visited in ours. She sacrificed much and in God’s time she has been richly blessed. She continues to teach us what it means to COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS by choosing to be blessed with love after love.
We have been blessed to receive another dad when tragedy could have caused “disorder.” And we have received the fruits of being blessed by a father’s guidance, wisdom and attention. We were blessed with the comfort and peace of knowing John was taking care of mom (and she, him). He was truly a blessing to our family.

Our children have been blessed to have a Grandpa and Great-grandpa. He shared his time and love of sports and fishing with them and looked forward to their visits and the opportunities to listen to their chatter. We count their blessings to have learned the gifts of kindness, gentleness and service from them.
There is an appointed time for everything, and a time for every affair under the heavens. A time to give birth, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to uproot the plant. A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to tear down, and a time to build. A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance. A time to scatter stones, and a time to gather them; a time to embrace, and a time to be far from embraces. A time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away. A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to be silent, and a time to speak. A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace. Ecc 3: 1-8

Heavenly Father, You have given us everything. Help me to choose to accept and count Your every blessing given to us, for only you know in what time we need each of your gifts. Thank you for the gift of John and all of our loved ones. May he and all the faithful departed rest in peace in the richness of your heavenly kingdom.  Amen. (John Perkins 1933-2012)

Count Your Blessings,

Monday, September 17, 2012

Don't Kill the Messenger

Friends of Faith:

Have you ever worn a new outfit with a tag still attached? Who laughed behind your back, who told you it was there, and who helped you take it off?
Have you ever been “uncomfortable” speaking the truth because you were afraid of what the other person might think about your honesty?

What about the tougher issues we face—are we willing to be a “best friend” who reminds our friends of God’s moral truths (in kindness and compassion—when our friends ask) or do we ignore what we know is wrong (sin) because we don’t want to be the “messenger who is killed,” the faithful Christian friend who is “rejected?”
Would you be willing to tell a friend that it is not right to use a company car on personal time; to take “fringe benefits” home from the office without permission; or spend the night with someone of the opposite sex before they are married? How often do you speak against revenge, contraception, premarital sex, cohabitation, homosexuality and abortion?

And how do I react when someone tells me the truth? Do I become resentful, rebellious and revengeful towards the messenger—thinking to myself—“oh, now they are judging me?” Or do I accept the truth, take off the tag (change my way), and become grateful that someone had the courage to tell me of my blunder (sin). Do I say “thank you” for the honesty of a best friend? Or do I “kill the messenger?”
"Get behind me, Satan. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do." He summoned the crowd with his disciples and said to them, "Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the gospel will save it." Mk 8: 27-35

And what about those who don’t “feel comfortable” enough to tell us the truth, who gossip behind our backs about the errors they know we are making? Are they only willing to do or say the truth if it gives them a reward? Are they like the person who says “they have been saved” but who does nothing with the faith they profess?
What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day, and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well," but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it? So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead. Indeed someone might say, "You have faith and I have works." Demonstrate your faith to me without works, and I will demonstrate my faith to you from my works. James 2:14-18

Are we only willing to be the messenger, the bearer and doer of difficult truths, God’s truths, when we see something in it for us? 
Ten of the apostles were killed for following Christ. Many prophets and saints became martyrs, including some at Columbine High School. And we were saved because Christ was crucified. They all said YES to being God’s messengers.

So be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and handed himself over for us as a sacrificial offering to God for a fragrant aroma. Immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be mentioned among you, as is fitting among holy ones, no obscenity or silly or suggestive talk, which is out of place, but instead, thanksgiving. Eph 5:1-4
Heavenly Father, you gave us your Son so that we might be saved. Help me to express my gratitude for his suffering by being truthful and honoring your commandments even when it is difficult and I am persecuted for my Christian convictions. Thank you for the spiritual gifts of wisdom and fear of the Lord which allow me to not fear being Your messenger. Amen.

Demonstrate your faith, but don’t kill the messenger—we are both the friend who needs to say the truth and the friend who needs to hear the truth.


Monday, September 10, 2012

Now or Later

Friends of Faith:

I open the mail to see how much the bills are, and I set the Health and Weight Watchers magazines aside for later.
I open emails that have catchy subject lines about bodily functions and the Christian reflection sits unopened--left for “later.”

I open the newspaper and read about crime and destruction, yet God’s “Good News” sits unopened for when I have more time.
So what made you read this NOW, instead of “later?” Did reverse psychology entice you to read this message?

Unfortunately God doesn’t work in reverse psychology, he works in the here and now truth.  But even the disciples and many of the saints did the reverse of what He asked at some point in their lives.
He ordered them not to tell anyone. But the more he ordered them not to, the more they proclaimed it.” Mk 7: 36

Much of what seems dear to us is opposite to God.
We love the rich, yet God says he will bless the poor.

Did not God choose those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom
that he promised to those who love him? Jas 2: 1-5 (And the Beatitudes, Mt 5)
We pray in need, but God says to “pray at all times, for everything,” especially in thanksgiving for the gifts he has given us.

For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work... from the power of Satan in every mighty deed and in signs and wonders that lie, and in every wicked deceit for those who are perishing because they have not accepted the love of truth so that they may be saved. Therefore, God is sending them a deceiving power so that they may believe the lie, that all who have not believed the truth but have approved wrongdoing may be condemned. But we ought to give thanks to God for you always, brothers loved by the Lord, because God chose you as the first fruits for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in truth. To this end he has [also] called you through our gospel to possess the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, brothers, stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught, either by an oral statement or by a letter of ours.” 2 Thes 2: 7-15

Heavenly Father, Truth for all ages, everything belongs to you. Help me to not deceive myself or to be a fool who is caught by my own vanity. Make me be a humble servant who understands that all that I have and all that I do that is good comes from you. Guide my tests and sufferings so that they bear the fruits of the Spirit by retaining good and banishing the evil in this world. Thank you for the fruits of the Spirit:  Goodness, Joy, Patience, Gentleness, Faithfulness, Kindness, Generosity, and Self-control. Amen.
Therefore, stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour. Mt 25: 13

Now is the time! May you be ready and be blessed,

Monday, September 3, 2012

The "Commander" in Chief

Women of Faith:

My question today is soul searching, and yet I believe God has given us all the simple solution: Are we living by God’s commands? And the solution: WWJD!
What commands/laws have we created as humans because we “are” human?

Moses said to the people: "Now, Israel, hear the statutes and decrees which I am teaching you to observe, that you may live, and may enter in and take possession of the land which the LORD, the God of your fathers, is giving you. In your observance of the commandments of the LORD, your God, which I enjoin upon you, you shall not add to what I command you nor subtract from it. Dt 4:1-2
God says we have a choice: good or evil, God or the devil.

God says we are all equal: not that we will be treated equally by the law, but by HIM.
So what laws protecting choice and equality are of God, and what laws protecting choice and equality are of man? Do our laws protect what God designed: Life and Marriage? Or are humans redesigning God’s commands?

This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines human precepts. You disregard God's commandment but cling to human tradition." Mk 7: 6-8
Do the laws we follow honor God’s Ten commandments? Or as the Ten Commandments have been taken off of the courthouse lawns, have God’s 10 been taken out of our moral and social compass, and therefore our human laws?

Is our government a god who is taking care of orphans and widows? Is everyone who proclaims to be “needy” really in need? What is it that we as humans really need? And have we determined that it is  government that will be the god to those who want to be taken care of, or is that the role we as humans, designed by God were given—to unselfishly take care of those in need?
All good giving and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no alteration or shadow caused by change. He willed to give us birth by the word of truth that we may be a kind of first fruits of his creatures. Humbly welcome the word that has been planted in you and is able to save your souls.  Be doers of the word and not hearers only, deluding yourselves. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to care for orphans and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unstained by the world. Jas 1: 17-28, 21B-22

When I came to you, brothers and sisters, proclaiming the mystery of God, I did not come with sublimity of words or of wisdom. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified. I came to you in weakness and fear and much trembling, and my message and my proclamation were not with persuasive words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of spirit and power, so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on the power of God. 1 Cor 2: 1-5
Our conscience is the soul God gave us as a “natural checkpoint” of right and wrong. What does our conscience tell us are the right things to teach, promote and most importantly to do?

He summoned the crowd again and said to them, "Hear me, all of you, and understand. Nothing that enters one from outside can defile that person; but the things that come out from within are what defile. "From within people, from their hearts, come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy,  blasphemy, arrogance, folly. All these evils come from within and they defile." Mk 7:14-15, 21-23
Lord, I love your commands. From every evil way I withhold my feet, that I may keep your words. From your ordinances I turn not away, for you have instructed me. Ps 119: 97, 101-102

Lord God, Heavenly King, the Greatest Commander, may I DO what I KNOW is Your will. Help all who proclaim to be Your followers have the courage to defend the unborn (God’s orphans) and to take a stand against all who promote and allow abortion.  Help us to give encouragement to single mothers (God’s widows) who have been abandoned by fathers of unborn children. Help them to be guided to Pro-life centers who have the resources necessary to support them and their children. Thank you for Your most perfect gift, Life.  Amen.
Follow God’s Command!