Monday, August 26, 2013

It's For Your Own Good

Friends of Faith:
Do you remember these types of conversations with your parents? Mom: “Practice your piano.” Me: “Do I have to?” Dad: “Mom said so and it’s for your own good.”
Me: “I’m going into town to meet Stan.” Mom: “No, that’s not a proper way to date.” Me: “Why?” Mom: “You’ll figure it out later, but it’s for your own good.”
Looking back, I wish I would have practiced piano a little more, so that now I could pick up a music book and play without thought. And as for the way I was taught to date—yes, I have figured it out—and of course I said the exact same words to our own children.
I wasn’t really rebellious, but I know I tested my parents on occasion. I didn’t like discipline anymore then, than I do now. It can be difficult to do things over and over, and to do them the right way, with integrity, humility and with moral standards (God’s standards).
You have forgotten the exhortation addressed to you as children: “My son, do not disdain the discipline of the Lord or lose heart when reproved by him; for whom the Lord loves, he disciplines; he scourges every son he acknowledges.” Endure your trials as “discipline”; God treats you as sons.  For what “son” is there whom his father does not discipline? At the time, all discipline seems a cause not for joy but for pain, yet later it brings the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who are trained by it. So strengthen your drooping hands and your weak knees.  Make straight paths for your feet, that what is lame may not be disjointed but healed. Heb 12: 5-7, 11-13
Discipline: it’s for my/our own good.
It’s what keeps us from weighing too much: the discipline of eating right and exercising.
It’s what makes us good at our jobs: day in day out education and the practice of going to work, even when it would be easier to take a “sick day.”
It’s what makes my marriage full of joy and peace: forgiveness 70 x 7 times (never going to bed angry), instead of giving the silent treatment or just giving up altogether.
It’s what makes me appreciate all the gifts I have been given in life: as humbly each day I open mail asking for donations for orphans and the starving poor around the world, as daily I seek to listen with an open heart to hear God’s words in scripture and minute by minute I strive to put into practice the work of honoring the commandments He has spoken.
I find it difficult to “not covet” my neighbors annual cruises and exotic vacations; I strive for the patience to not get angry and rude with an IRS representative who is just doing their job after “wasting 2 hours of my time on hold;” and I seek to find tolerance for the friend who turns their back on our relationship because I spoke a moral truth they didn’t want to hear.
Jesus passed through towns and villages, teaching as he went and making his way to Jerusalem.  Someone asked him, “Lord, will only a few people be saved?”  He answered them, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough…  Depart from me, all you evildoers!’And there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.  For behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.” Lk 13: 22-30
Heavenly Father, You discipline us for our own good. Help me to not be discouraged by moral corruption and to endure the trials of this world.  Strengthen my weary (drooping) hands and weak knees to do whatever it is You ask of me. Help me to give up this world for Your world. Bless me with an open heart that isn’t afraid to speak the truth and help me to keep my eyes focused on Your narrow gate. Thank you for showing me your presence in the rich rewards of spiritually filled conversations with special friends and for the grace and peaceful fruit of a joy-filled marriage. May I be disciplined to live Your way, The Way, which will achieve the righteousness of Your eternal life. Amen.
May you be blessed in the discipline of doing what is right, by seeking and speaking the truth, and through the renewed hope of God’s presence and power through the relationships in Your life.
In the Spirit of Christ,

Monday, August 19, 2013


Friends of Faith:
We all want to win—at golf, football, volleyball, in teaching a child what’s best for them and in the discussion with our husband as to who is going to do the dishes tonight.
But have you ever finished on the “right side” of a conversation and felt like you lost, or maybe that you shouldn’t have been in the conversation at all, or that someone “let” you win just so they didn’t have to continue the discussion?
And have you ever “won” the discussion about the dishes and then decided to help your husband do them? Did you realize that the discussion wasn’t about “not doing the dishes” but rather about “sharing the duty” of the dishes?
What is it about winning that makes us uncomfortable and makes us feel as if in reality we have lost—even when we win—that even sometimes makes us end up doing what we so wanted to get out of doing?
I think it’s because in actuality every time we win, we create a loser—we make someone “feel” less, and intuitively, in our heart and soul, God wants us all to be more, to become greater, not in our own eyes, but in His. He wants us to be His winner and in order to do that we need to be doing what is right by him, not making ourselves be stronger and more powerful—instead of Him.
It’s why it feels so good when our husband “volunteers” to do the dishes—because when he does, he makes me feel special—like he did it just to help me. Or way it feels so good when I am the recipient of the thank you for having folded and hung up his clothes so that he could find and wear his favorite shirt (instead of leaving it wrinkled in the laundry basket).
Both of us avoided a conflict, both of us were winners because both of us served each other by doing what might be considered “his or her duty” without the conflict, without the argument, and without either of us becoming a winner or a loser.
This week’s readings were a reflection on conflict, division and conflict resolution—becoming winners and losers…

"Jesus said to his disciples: “I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing! There is a baptism with which I must be baptized, and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished! Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth?  No, I tell you, but rather division.  From now on a household of five will be divided, three against two and two against three; a father will be divided against his son and a son against his father, a mother against her daughter and a daughter against her mother, a mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.” Lk 12: 49-53

Christ wanted us to be “on fire”—not on fire between us, as we so often are, but on fire for Him—to be a real “forever” winner because we weren’t arguing amongst ourselves, looking to see who has more or less, or looking to do more or less, but rather that we are working and praying to be a winner in His eyes, a speaker of His truths (not ours) and being responsible and charitable enough—serving each other so that we each feel special—like a winner (someone who is loved) in each other’s and most importantly in God’s eyes.

Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith. Heb 12: 1-4

Heavenly Father, in YOU I have won all things. Thank you for family, friends and for the ability to search for and open my heart to the truth you have set before each of us. Help me to do what is right with all that you have given me. Help me to make everyone around me feel as special as you have made them—in your image. Help me to unite, rather than to conquer and divide; to persevere in running the race and to keep my eyes fixed upon You. Amen.

God says we are created in him, by him and for him—to be winners through him. Our purpose is to make everyone around us winners also.

Strive today to help him create a winner in your spouse, in your child or in a stranger that comes your way—by serving them, by making them feel special through that service, and by allowing them an opportunity to do the same for you.

Monday, August 12, 2013


Friends of Faith:

This morning as I was deleting emails I kept having the feeling that I was being tested—like Lot at the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah—tested by being sidetracked from what God really wants of me, tested not to look back, but to completely trust God in looking forward.

We are about to destroy this place, for the outcry reaching the LORD against those here is so great that the LORD has sent us to destroy it.”the LORD is about to destroy the city.” …. When he hesitated, the men, because of the LORD’s compassion for him, seized his hand and the hands of his wife and his two daughters and led them to safety outside the city…..“Oh, no, my lords!” Lot replied to them. “You have already shown favor to your servant, doing me the great kindness of saving my life. But I cannot flee to the hills, or the disaster will overtake and kill me….to save my life.”Well, then,” he replied, “I grant you this favor too. I will not overthrow the town you have mentioned. Hurry, escape there! I cannot do anything until you arrive there.” Gen 19: 13-22

I thought about how often this week I was sidetracked: by an email which made me hope for something more; by the internet’s ability to make me angry—either because the speed was “too slow”—or because of propaganda or political causes viewed; by naysayers; or by the challenges of someone whose heart is hardened to a Christian viewpoint.

Sidetracked by the evil of the world, by being told what and why to “hate” what is happening in the world; sidetracked by those who try to convince me that I am in some way responsible for the evil –either by my participation, or by my lack of participation. And sidetracked by those who think we should “hate” certain people for what they stand for, are doing to us, or are “requiring” us to do.

But in my heart I know I have a clear choice to turn away from these types of hatred: that there are some things (most things) over which I have no control.

And I know that God has given me a primary responsibility to love: love my enemies and love my neighbors—not for what they do or don’t do, but because they were created by God, in the image of God and because they have the possibility to be converted and changed thru God’s healing mercy.

So, what I am really being sidetracked from is my ability to love and my time to pray—fervently, and for ALL things. Prayer and love, which by God’s design, will allow me to see all things as He created them, instead of as man wants them to be, or changes them to by the choices of human sin.

I should really pray for those who are in power, that their power would be used for the good of all, instead of “hating” what they do. God is the one in power, and He is the one who gives us the grace of faith: faith that can change “enemies” and strangers into “lovers” and friends.

I should pray in thanksgiving for all of the gifts I have instead of praying to receive more than He has already given me.

I should pray to accept His decisions, and answer His requests, instead of praying that my own decisions and need for control be blessed by His rewards.

And I should seek to find ways to love as God loves us.

Heavenly Father: All honor and glory (rewards and awards) are Yours through the unending love given to us by Christ’s death on the cross. Thank you for the love and support of my family and friends. I pray that neither the power nor the principalities here on earth should ever deter me or sidetrack me from listening to Your will. Help me to be patient in staying the course, by not trying to "undo" what is already done but instead by continuing to search for Your truth and Your way. Help me to say yes to doing what it is that YOU want done. And help me not to look back for what I might have to give up, but to be given the grace of faith to look ahead and to place my trust in You for all things visible and invisible. Amen.
Be patient and persevere in Your prayer this week.
Stay on God’s track and you will be blessed,

Monday, August 5, 2013


Friends of Faith:

I have always had a great desire to be one: to count everyone around me as a friend (by relationship) and to make them a part of our family (I believe we are truly all connected as relatives).
I was struck this weekend by several of those “one”connections—by weddings of two “family” members, family “relatively” and thru “relationship” (although I am positive we must somehow be connected relatively.) Congratulations to Lexie and Chad and Janelle and Justin!

And Sunday, I was again awe struck by what is the desired “oneness”of the universal church community, as we baptized into the Christian family the newest member of our nuclear family, our granddaughter, Avery Lynn Staker.
We profess, in the beginning of our faith, at our Christian baptism: “I believe in one God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible. I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God, …I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son, I believe in one, holy, catholic [universal] and apostolic Church. I confess oneBaptism for the forgiveness of sins and I look forward to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. Amen. (Nicene Creed).

At their weddings it was spoken: “the two shall become one.”And because those vows were fulfilled in a wedding just over two years ago, the two were joined and were given the Godly gift of a child.That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one body.” Gen 2: 24
We are unified as witnesses when we are baptized into the Christian church given to us through his one son, Christ Jesus. We are unified by marriage (of two persons who become a family) or by a marriage of God and person (at ordination or death). And we have one common goal and that is to be with God in heaven as revealed to us through our faith and by the grace of God.

Whether we know it or not we are constant witnesses of the oneness God intended when he created our human family in the first family, Adam and Eve.
But sometimes this unity seems terribly short lived. It doesn’t seem to be very many years into our lives when differences appear: divisions and distances made through our own choices and the reactions of others to those choices (conflicts and disagreements which ultimately end in some form of divorce or war).

Am I truly striving to remain and to become ONE with Christ, with an entire Christian family, as was professed at my baptism when I was made a child of God and as I confirmed through my own choice at confirmation? Am I striving to become and form a unified family (and the joining of two distinct families as in-laws) as I vowed I would strive to do on our wedding day? Or is my vanity causing me to want to be right, to win, to make my own path, to become my own god, or even to form my own “church”?
Vanity of vanities, says Qoheleth, vanity of vanities! All things are vanity! Here is one who has labored with wisdom and knowledge and skill, and yet to another who has not labored over it, he must leave property. This also is vanity and a great misfortune. For what profit comes to man from all the toil and anxiety of heart with which he has labored under the sun? All his days sorrow and grief are his occupation; even at night his mind is not at rest.This also is vanity.” Ecc 1: 2, 2: 21-23

Heavenly Father, You are THE unity and THE oneness I desire. Give me the patience and the perseverance to continue to search and to respond to Your one, holy and apostolic truth. Help me to be Your servant: a servant which heals division, which unites the divided, and which seeks peace amongst our Christian family. Take my vanity and change it into the humbleness needed to surrender my entire being to You. Amen.
May we be ONE in Christ,