Sunday, August 28, 2011

Divided

The word 'divided' has been rolling around in my head lately. Divide, pull apart, separate from a single purpose....sounds a bit violent and meant to harm and I guess it is.

Now I'm pretty good at division, not as good as I am at multiplication, but pretty good all the same. I like the way numbers work with each other and how you can half them into fractions...but people don't quite work the same way. If you divide a person, you pretty much destroy him. Same thing for families. Once a family is divided, it's never quite the same.

Yet we have an enemy bent on dividing us. John 10:10 tells us that the enemy specifically comes to steal, kill and destroy.

The division also gets me to thinking about the recent earthquakes that caught us all off guard. People who thought they were perfectly safe were sitting right on top of a fault line - a crack in the very bedrock of their lives! It didn't take long for people to feel the "shaking" for miles around as the division started to make itself known.

At our house, the enemy usually shows up at the least opportune time...like this surprises me? I mean, he's not going to show up when I'm armed and loaded for bear! He comes when my guard is down...when I think I can just get some R&R on the weekend. I keep forgetting I am in a battle zone and have not yet reached the safety of my real home. Here the enemy can strike at any time.
It starts small...a few cross words toward a brother or sister. Then it escalates...the cross words pass between husband and wife. Next thing you know, there is a fault line - a small crack in the foundation that can be use to divide. Oh, we usually are quick to point out that the "fault" line is due to the other person, but we really have to admit that we are part of the divide.

Now, rock is pretty difficult to split. You can split it with a huge force, but a far more subtle separator is ice. A little water fills the crack and when it freezes, it pushes the rock apart. In families, harsh words and hurt feelings cause the crack. Then un-forgiveness fills in the crack like slowly seeping water. Next thing you know, things cool off and ice forms in that fault. You may think things are now okay, but that cool silence hides that the freeze is widening the gap. Then things heat up again and before you know it, the "crack" is splitting wide open. The enemy has divided again - he has destroyed.

This divide happens not just in families, but in almost every part of our lives. We pick apart our children's teachers and then wonder why they don't learn from them. We pick apart the church and then wonder why it doesn't seem to feel like a place where we receive anymore. We pick apart our bosses or coworkers and then wonder why we can't seem to make progress at work. The enemy has come to steal, kill, and destroy - but he starts the process with a divide.

Ecclesiastes 4:22 -"Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken."


It's time we stopped dividing and started working harder to pull together. I still believe that even though times seems to be getting more and more difficult, we are getting closer to a turnaround. I was told by someone I'm must be referring to something spiritual because they did not see any good news up ahead....but I find that where the Spirit is, there is victory. I expect to see that victory in both the spiritual and the physical world around me. In the meantime, it's up to me to make sure I don't allow the enemy to seep in and cause a fault line that can be used to divide. I don't want to have earthquakes messing with my victory...how about you?

Sunday, August 21, 2011

I got this....

Don't you just love the words, "I got this"? I heard my husband today at lunch say those words to my daughter and her friend. They wanted to leave the church without waiting for us and we'd meet up at the Chinese restaurant. Before we could get there, she called wondering what to do. Her dad said simply, "Go in and eat. When the bill comes, I will take care of it. You don't worry. We're on our way."

Now this would speak volumes all by itself, but when coupled with what God had spoken to my heart that very morning it echoed through my soul!

This has been a difficult weekend. Anyone who has teenagers knows those kinds of weekends tend to sneak up on you and give you a good swift punch in the stomach leaving you gasping for air and wondering what happened. Still, in the midst of it all, I knew God was in control....and I prayed.

This morning during my prayers for "my family" I heard that unmistakeable voice of God..."Whose family?" Just two words but it re-aligned my prayers and I said, "I know God...they're not mine. They are yours. We are yours. But what part do you want me to play in helping to correct this mess?" That's when I heard the six most comforting words I think I've ever heard. "Don't you worry. I got this." Does that give you the chills it gave me? I really hope so because it has brought such a peace into the situation that I cannot explain. Then, just in case I needed confirmation, I saw the facebook post of a friend:
From my friend Honoray's post:
What ever you are facing in this season: "You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the lord will give you, O Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the lord will be with you." 2 Chronicles 20:17


I don't know what you are facing right now. I do know I am seeing the enemy trying to bring in fear at every opportunity. Division is cropping up with such regularity that it makes my head spin. This isn't just friend against friend, although I'm seeing plenty of that...it's child against parent, husband against wife; those who need to cling to each other most are having a wedge of guilt, distrust, or anger hammered in between them like a wedge used to split wood. But it won't work. Our Father will see to that. I know. I've heard His promise.... "Don't you worry. I've got this."

There will be plenty of times when I know God will have me to "stand and fight", but this time I'm taking my hands off the problem and waiting to see the salvation of the Lord. These children are His, not ours. The enemy has messed with the wrong families this time. "Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you." I trust my Father to take care of it all.

Will you do me a favor and share the victories when they happen? It will encourage us all.
I'm looking forward to hearing from you. May God's blessings overtake you this week. I know I plan to stand still to make it easier for them to catch up to me!

Deuteronomy 28

Blessings on Obedience
1 “Now it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice of the LORD your God, to observe carefully all His commandments which I command you today, that the LORD your God will set you high above all nations of the earth. 2 And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of the LORD your God:
3 “Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the country.
4 “Blessed shall be the fruit of your body, the produce of your ground and the increase of your herds, the increase of your cattle and the offspring of your flocks.
5 “Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl.
6 “Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out.
7 “The LORD will cause your enemies who rise against you to be defeated before your face; they shall come out against you one way and flee before you seven ways.
8 “The LORD will command the blessing on you in your storehouses and in all to which you set your hand, and He will bless you in the land which the LORD your God is giving you.
9 “The LORD will establish you as a holy people to Himself, just as He has sworn to you, if you keep the commandments of the LORD your God and walk in His ways. 10 Then all peoples of the earth shall see that you are called by the name of the LORD, and they shall be afraid of you. 11 And the LORD will grant you plenty of goods, in the fruit of your body, in the increase of your livestock, and in the produce of your ground, in the land of which the LORD swore to your fathers to give you. 12 The LORD will open to you His good treasure, the heavens, to give the rain to your land in its season, and to bless all the work of your hand. You shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow. 13 And the LORD will make you the head and not the tail; you shall be above only, and not be beneath, if you heed the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you today, and are careful to observe them. 14 So you shall not turn aside from any of the words which I command you this day, to the right or the left, to go after other gods to serve them.


Saturday, August 20, 2011

Not the Saturday I'd hoped for.

"I hate you!" The words ricocheted off the walls and a few lodged in my heart. "I hate living here. I hate being part of this family." I listened as my child stormed away in anger over being confronted with wrong behavior. I may have looked calm on the outside, but inside I was sobbing. I had been looking forward to an easy Saturday filled with nothing to do and now I was knee deep in having to deal with two children who had somehow started a war.


I have always believed in discipline and in making sure that it "fit the crime" if at all possible. Disrespectful words toward me meant you lose the right to talk to friends (phone). Can't get along with your sibling means you can't spend time with friends. You get the idea....but no matter how fair, to a child any discipline seems like the end of their world.


A friend of mine described the difference in correction and discipline this way: "Correction is stopping someone from doing wrong. Discipline is teaching someone to do right." (Channing Miskel) Today with my children I felt I was doing a little of both and I wasn't sure whether it was harder on them or me.


My biggest concern was that my child take responsibility for his/her behavior. Yet somehow, this seemed to be the most difficult obstacle to overcome. Why is it that we hate admitting when we are wrong? It's so much easier to blame someone else for our problems.


I wonder if God feels this way when He disciplines me? Does His heart break as He watches me turn away or strike out at others because I've done wrong? Do I realize my actions do not anger Him, but they disappoint as I once again choose to deny? Do I see that He is trying to steer me clear of destruction? Do I see that He is trying to protect me from myself?


Just yesterday I was angry at some of the things life was throwing at me and blaming everything and everyone around me for the problem. I may have seemed calm on the outside, but inside a raging inferno was threatening to erupt. I felt my stomach knot tighter and tighter as I strained to "hold it together" on the outside. I joked and smiled, but inside I was screaming. I wanted to throw a two year old tantrum! As my own child stormed away from me today, I saw myself...and I didn't like it. My heart was breaking.




This blog is not filled with any answers...just reflections. Who knows where we'll go from here. I have to believe it will be a place of peace. I don't like going through the storm to find it, but if that's what it takes...I'm heading in.


"The best years of your life are the ones in which you decide your problems are your own. You do not blame them on your mother, the ecology, or the president. You realize that you control your own destiny."- Albert Ellis


Hebrews 12:11 "No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it."


Prov 3:11-12 (NIV) "My son, do not despise the Lord's discipline and do not resent his rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in."



Prov 15:5 (NIV) "A fool spurns his father's discipline, but whoever heeds correction shows prudence."(the ability to govern and discipline oneself)

Monday, August 1, 2011

Bouncing ping pong balls in church

There I was standing in worship and the thoughts were bouncing around in my head like ping-pong balls. For anyone who doesn't have at least a little ADD, you have no idea what this is like. (Pretty sure my sweet husband, patient man that he is, does NOT suffer from this. He doesn't like to try to do two things at once, yet he's been patient with me for over 30 years!)
Anyway, back to worship....see how my thoughts take a tangent! I stood there in worship and my mind was going a hundred miles an hour. School starts back this week and my room isn't ready, I have a presentation to make, the curriculum is changing, I need to go to the grocery store, I need to make sure the kids' uniforms are ready, I have to plan what I will wear, how will I fit in exercise in all this, we need a new bulletin board in the hallway, I need to print back to school letters.....the list goes on and on. I was singing the words of the song, at least I think I was, but my mind was a million miles away.

Somehow through all this cloud of gnat-like thoughts I heard a call, a reminder of sorts. "Donna, you are worried about many things, but only one thing is needed. Choose the better thing."

Now for those of us who do deal with ping-pong ball thoughts, you will understand how that simple sentence brings hope and at the same time it's a bit like trying to catch ONE gnat in the midst of millions. One thing is needed....I know that. BUT I've got all this that....oops. There comes that BIG BUT trying to steer me in the wrong direction again, or worse - immobilize me! One thing. I know I'll do much better if I focus on one thing. Really? I have to pick just one?

I also keep hearing the line from Kung Fu Panda - FOCUS Padawan, FOCUS! (At least I think that's where I heard that quote!) If I can just keep my focus....that is so hard for someone like me.


The one thing is, of course, Jesus - God's Word. If I can/will focus on this one thing, the rest will fall into place. There is an object lesson we used to use in children's ministry where you put a bunch of small rocks and sand in a jar and then try to put in one big rock....of course it doesn't fit. However, if you will first put in the BIG rock, then all the smaller rocks + sand + water will easily fit! When we put in the big things first, the smaller things just seem to fall into place. I know that, but the thoughts continue to buzz around in my head! Then I remember the sheep.

I read once that sheep have a problem with bugs getting in their ears. I can imagine the buzzing is incessant and more than a little irritating - sort of like my thoughts! The shepherd will take oil and pour it on their stinky sheep heads to help keep the bugs out. Those bugs can't live in the oil. That's what I need....I need the Lord to "annoint my head with oil". Of course I don't mean that I'm going to go and stick my head in a big bowl of oil - I have enough trouble with my hair without doing THAT! But I do need the oil of the Holy Spirit to pour through my head and kill off those distracting thoughts that keep me from focusing. That probably means I'll need to get still long enough for the shepherd to pour.

After a short but lazy summer, trying to focus in the whirlwind of back to school is tough! Still, I know it is not only the key to surviving, but thriving. I've got to get still, put the big rock in first, allow the Good Shepherd to annoint my head with oil....and focus. Maybe then the ping pong balls will stop bouncing long enough for me to hear from God and find peace!

Luke 10: 38-42 (Message) "As they continued their travel, Jesus entered a village. A woman by the name of Martha welcomed him and made him feel quite at home. She had a sister, Mary, who sat before the Master, hanging on every word he said. But Martha was pulled away by all she had to do in the kitchen. Later, she stepped in, interrupting them. "Master, don't you care that my sister has abandoned the kitchen to me? Tell her to lend me a hand." The Master said, "Martha, dear Martha, you're fussing far too much and getting yourself worked up over nothing. One thing only is essential, and Mary has chosen it—it's the main course, and won't be taken from her."

Matthew 6:33 "But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well."

Psalm 23 "The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing.  He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters,  he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever."