Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Rejoicing Power

One reasons Christians need to assemble together in worship is so they can rejoice together by singing out praises to our wonderful Lord and savior. As the true worship starts the worshiper enters into the presence of the Lord. God inhabits the praises of His people.

If you are not yet a believer this last concept will not be understood but trust me there is joy as we worship once we really have let Jesus come into our lives and hearts.

Rejoicing is not as easy by yourself. When Paul and others were thrown into prison the guard found them singing with loud praises to God. This is strange and certainly the only way to understand this is.


As they praised God. God started to do the miracle. It is so easy to get into the not rejoicing mode because we can see that the world is in a real mess. But, wait,  prison isn't a happy place and Paul could rejoice.

In fact, he wrote. REJOICE IN THE LORD ALWAYS.  

I like the first part, but the second..always isn't so easy. What about when things aren't going so well? What about an unexpected expense? What about setbacks or "delays" to answer in prayer. Can I rejoice then?

The reason we don't rejoice is that we don't realize that when we are obedient to REJOICE in the bad circumstances, the Lord will change these in some way as He, the Lord, comes into the problem.

When I was a young Christian I read a book called PRISON TO PRAISE. The book was filled with examples of people who praised God in their circumstances and persisted in rejoicing in them until they got changed. And they did.

We are a bit wishy-washy. If we say a little prayer and nothing happens we tend to say. "It didn't work." But, did we get to really rejoicing and really entering into the presence of the Lord? Then we can really find strength and joy and certainty that HE IS WITH US whatever we are going through.

Paul was tough. His life was rough. He had plenty of opposition but he also had joy. He experienced the Lord whatever.

Next time something "adverse" happens to us. Let's try rejoicing. And see God.

God's Timing

God made time but He exists outside time for He always was and always will be. We live in such a small world compared to God's.

God sees everything whereas we are pretty focused on what is about us or what comes into our world by way of information. A case in point is prayer. Why are some prayers answered very promptly while others takes years to answer? This can cause lots of trouble with new believers who want answers now.

We are operating in an "instant" access and "instant" gratification society. God doesn't play that game. He has a perfect plan and perfect timing for everything in our lives but we will have to learn to wait. Wait is not a popular word. WAIT ON THE LORD. We'd rather be doing something. Because prayer is "slow" we may be tempted to put that on our "later" list. We shouldn't but if we are honest...do we really pray to God about every thing that worries us?

A friend has been praying for years and years for her son to get a kidney transplant. Why so long? These delays are hard for us.

Mary, the mother of our Lord, had to make the journey to Bethlehem when she was in the last stages of pregnancy. She got pregnant when she was a teenager and before she was married. But, she had a cousin, Elizabeth, who had a miraculous baby before her. The miracle was that she was too old. But, God changed the timing for her. God made these two women at the opposite ends of life connect with their pregnancies BECAUSE IT WAS IMPORTANT THAT JOHN THE BAPTIST announce JESUS.

Now Elizabeth and John, her husband had prayed for years for a child and when it was too late (by all normal standards) for this to happen God answered the prayer and Elizabeth had a baby in her old age.

Who could figure out this divine plan. God's timing was perfect. It was just not man's timing. People have to wait for God's answer because HIS TIMING IS RIGHT and a delay to an answer to prayer may mean God is up to something MAGNIFICENT.

Think about it and keep praying.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Being A Mother

I don't think there is anything more challenging or rewarding than being a mother.

Who can forget the first glimpse of that baby cleaned up and wrapped up and carried to the mother in the hospital. Of course it is love. The relationship started months ago with that first little movement. Now the real child comes.

And with the baby comes mother nerves. Is the baby okay. Check fingers and toes. Can I nurse this baby? How can I manage this awesome responsibility. When I go home can I take all these nurses and helpers with me?

I think the sight of the baby causes most of us mothers to realize we are way beyond our depth. Who forgets the first visit to the pediatrician. Is the baby gaining enough weight? How can I possibly cut his toenails? When will I ever sleep again through the night? And then, in doesn't seem long, the first partings. Dropping off the little one to nursery school and rushing back a few hours later to make sure that the kid is okay.

As I said a few blogs back I can't imagine how hard it would be to go through all the challenges without a husband. Most of the children accepted into Touchdown Camp are from single mom families. Most of them are carrying an impossible load of work, children and responsibility.

Some of them have not had good parenting experiences themselves. One mom recently came to Patty Cardona with an unusual question. How do I learn to hug? Her children had been receiving hugs at Verbo church but she herself did not know how to do this for her own children.

Count yourself blessed if you had a mother who could hug you. Count yourself blessed if you had both a mother and a father who listened to you, helped you with homework, took you for ice cream and watched you grow up..

When we look at the needs around us, we know, that all the love we have received can be used if we just step out and reach out to others to help them.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Left Overs

We don't think much of leftovers in middle America. They are just something you take home from a restaurant or put in the refrigerator for another time.

One day Jesus was teaching the multitudes speaking of the kingdom of God and healing but there was a problem at the end of the day. No food. (see Luke 8) The disciples wanted the crowds to go away to some of the towns. Where they were ministering was in an isolated place. Jesus had another idea: "You give them to eat." As usual the disciples looked at their resources. Here it was: five loaves and two fish.  The crowd was around five thousand. Jesus told the disciples to have the people sit in groups of fifty. Then he blessed the small resource given and gave the crowds to eat.  AND THERE WERE LEFT OVERS 12 baskets full of fragments.

In another account there is the admonition about the leftovers "let nothing be wasted." 

Every summer at camp we see very hungry children. Lunchtime is very hungry time with children having been out playing sports. We teach children to bless the food and we always have enough.

Children who are poor are used to not having enough to eat. Some of them even try to stuff their food down their shirts to take home. A left over  that consists of their lunch.

We serve a God who feeds people with the Word of God but he also sees human need. Our Lord knew what it was to be hungry. He had gone without food for 40 days in the wilderness. Jesus came from a poor family. The poor and their needs were no surprise to him.

Recently Patty Cardona mentioned that the cancelling of summer school was a real hardship BECAUSE THE CHILDREN WERE FED lunch.  It is hard for us to imagine being so close to the edge that a few lunches per week make a difference.

They do.  Left overs count. Think about it.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Royal Wedding

Well, having seen what I think of as the wedding of the century with all the eyes of the world on the couple. Heard the vows. Seen the tradition. What do we make of all of this?

I am a sucker for a real love story and it looks like this is one. Not that marriage is ever easy but it is a HOLY estate "not to be entered into lightly". Everyone is aware that marriage, at best, can be painful, wonderful, amazing and challenging all at the same time. And, to top it off if the couple is in the public eye it must be much more difficult.

A real love story can reenergize a family. A reall love story can get a nation, even one restrained to the point of shouting and cheering. The announcer said he had never seen anything like this.

Who will forget the pictures of the thousands and thousands waving the British flag as various of the roylaty including the dear Queen Mother in yellow dress and hat passed by. There is something about a wedding that is royal because marriage is ordained of God.

There can be a miracle in a wedding. Love makes those who have grown a bit cynical take another look. A couple really in love (even if the kiss was rehearsed) is still a couple in love from the most humble to the most royal.

God made male and female and he put them together to create other human beings raised inside that love between the man and the woman. We need not on this royal wedding throw any cold water. I am sure we are all praying that this will be the one with the "happily ever after" ending.

So hard to believe there can be wholeness in this very dark, fractured world. But, wait. We have just celebrated the ressurection of Jesus from the dead. He is alive and all love comes from God.

Hang on. Hold hands. Forgive and trust that ONE much stronger than yourself will see you through the years.