Saturday, May 28, 2016

He Chose Me!

Hey Friend,

In a few months we will have the privilege of electing a president.  We may not like the choices, but yet we still get to choose.

Our choice involves a discriminatory evaluation of the candidates.  We will choose one above the other based on their political views, their personal character, their past performance, even on whether we like their clothes or their hair.  Out choice is all about the candidates.

And, what about me.  I can be fickle.  Depending on how my day is going or in which direction the breeze is blowing, I can change my mind.  If I'm tired and moody and read bits and bytes on the candidates, it can change or taint my view. My choices are also based upon the person that I am.  Some days I'm good, and some days...not so much.

Bakers Evangelical Dictionary of Bible Theology describes the concept of "election" in this way:

"Those who are saved, the believers in Jesus Christ, are called "the elect (chosen)".  None who is ultimately redeemed can boast that they saved themselves or that they added anything to the salvation that they received through Jesus Christ."

It goes on to contrast human choice with God's choices:

"Since it is true that mere human choices are made according to what the person is, it goes without saying that God's choices are made in a accordance with who God is.  God's choices and decisions are fully consistent with his eternal wisdom, goodness, justice, fairness, and love.  Nothing that God chooses to do is mean-spirited, vindictive, or wrong.  God cannot act any other way than consistently with his eternal divine nature.  For this reason, human beings may trust God to do what is right, and our highest good is to choose the will of God for ourselves."

God is Love...His very nature is Loving...His choices are always in line with His character.

"He chose me , not because I am great, but because He is good."  (K. Balarie)

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. (1 Peter 2:9)

The Greek word for "chosen" here is "eklektos" which not only means elect, or chosen, it means "The Chosen One".  I believe that God is equating our being chosen by Him with Jesus Christ (The Chosen One).  Who am I to be put in the same category as Jesus himself??  Yet, God calls me His chosen one.

The words "special possession" are together in one Greek word "peripoiesis".  We are not just a possession...we are a Special Possession.  Jesus is described as the stone the builders cast aside, but the One who is ultimately the Cornerstone of our faith.  We are not just any possession, we are God's precious stone.

He chose me not because of something I did, but because of who He is.

This allows me to cast all the striving, earning, fear of disappointing, out the window.  He chooses (elects) me because of His great love and NOTHING will change that.  Nothing I can do can make Him love me more or less, because His very nature is Love and He cannot deny Himself.

God is immutable (unchanging). He has set His love upon me and this fact is unchangeable. 

What a reason to praise Him!!

Dear Heavenly Father, I praise you for the good and loving God that you are.  I praise you that all your decisions are based upon you Holy character that you cannot deny.  How thankful I am that you are not like me.  Forgive me for my fickleness and align my choices with your will so that you can use me to bring you glory.  Thank you for loving me so much that you chose call me Christ's sister/ have set me apart as your special possession.  Help me to grasp this unfathomable love you have for me and to live like the loved one that I am.  Thank you for choosing me.  In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

Be blessed...

ps. Check out these faces and lives that are being transformed:

Click Here to find out more about sponsoring a child through RCF, Inc.

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Sunday, May 22, 2016

Who is Waiting Upon Whom?

Hey Friend,

Thank you for bearing with me as I am totally off my writing schedule...Would you take a look at these faces that are beaming with smiles because their lives have been transformed by Jesus through the work of Redeemer Christian Foundation, Inc.?

In my work with the school and the foundation, there has been a lot of waiting involved.  Waiting as we went through the legal process of being incorporated.  Waiting, after putting together the application for 501c3 status, for the IRS to grant us approval.  Waiting for people's hearts to be softened to want to sponsor children...waiting, waiting, waiting.

My own "life scripture"  talks about my periods of waiting, through intense trials in my life, for God to hear my cry and rescue me:

I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry.  He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.  He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.  Many will see and be in awe and put their trust in the Lord.  (Psalm 40: 1-3)

Now, I confess, I didn't exactly wait patiently.  In fact, I was very often impatient while I waited.  But, the fact remains that God was faithful to rescue me when I waited upon Him.

Another verse we are quick to quote when someone is growing weary in the waiting process is Isaiah 40:31: (say this one with know it)

But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles, they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

What a beautiful and encouraging promise if we can just persevere, hang in there, and wait. 

Do you notice how the emphasis is always on us being diligent and waiting upon God?

What if we flipped this on its head? 

We think we've done well if we've waited weeks, or months, or even years...

What if we had been waiting since the beginning of time, and would still be waiting even in the end times?

That's exactly what God has been doing...waiting on mankind!!

In the book of Isaiah in the Old Testament, we are told:

"Therefore the Lord is waiting to show you mercy, and is rising up to show you compassion, for the Lord is a just God."  (Isaiah 30:18)

Isn't it interesting to read how the Lord is not waiting to chide us with, "What took you so long?"  No, He's waiting to show us mercy (also known as lovingkindness) and compassion.  Who does that?  Who waits patiently to be nice?  God doesn't get miffed if He's kept waiting for a long time...Wow!

And how does the Lord wait?  He is always on the ready...He's not far away and distant- having to jump on the Concord to catch a speedy flight to our, He's always right there beside us, waiting for us to turn to Him. He is always present.

He who watches over Israel will neither slumber not sleep.  (Psalm 121:4)

In the Old Testament, we see a God who never slumbers, who is always "open" 24/7.  If we turn to Him in the wee and restless hours when we can't sleep - He's right there waiting on us.

Throughout the Old and New Testament, this amazingly patient triune God bids us to "Come"  over 1400 times.

Old and New Testaments record Him inviting us to "Ask"  over 700 times.

Even in the apocalyptic writing in Revelation, we find Jesus still waiting.  Unlike the FBI that busts down the door with gun cocked and ready, Jesus stands and waits.

"Behold, I stand at the door, and knock; if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me."  (Revelation 3:20)

The Alpha and the Omega, the Creator of the Universe, the One who has always been and always will be, has been waiting. 

Who is He waiting so patiently on?



I sometimes wonder if God doesn't have the urge to say, "Will you just slow down for a minute so that I can love on you?  I've been here waiting for you all along."

What a wonderful God we have who waits patiently to lift us out of the slimy pit, to give us a firm place to stand, to give us good things and our heart's desire, to put a new song of rejoicing in our mouth. 

More than anything, He waits patiently to give us the gift of Himself.  How long, I ask, are we going to keep Him waiting?

Dear Lord, thank you for your enduring patience.  I praise you that you wait on me, not to offend, but to show me mercy, compassion, lovingkindness, and forgiveness.  You invite me to Come and to Ask for the good gifts you have in store for me.  You wait to give me yourself and the gift of Life.  You wait for me to come running into your arms where a refuge like none other waits for me.  Thank you me to not keep you waiting...In Jesus name I pray.  Amen.

Be blessed...

Friday, May 13, 2016

When Looking Back Propels You Forward

Hey Friend,

I haven't written for awhile because I've been quite busy with my responsibilities in heading up Redeemer Christian Foundation, Inc.  Most things we read, including the Bible, urge us to forget what is/was in the past and press on toward the goal that lies ahead.  This is wise and sage advice.  Ruminating over past mistakes helps no one and only furthers the enemy's purpose.

I've been thinking, lately, about when looking back can actually be good for us.

I grew up in a staunch Presbyterian church.  We sang hymns that dated back centuries.  One such hymn I remember is, "Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing" written by Robert Robinson in 1758.  I kind of got the fist verse, but the second verse was a complete mystery to me.

It begins with, "Here I raise my Ebenezer...".  My thoughts at the time were what was a character from a Dickens novel doing in a church hymn?  Never thought too much more about it until I was in a Bible study and it talked about 1 Samuel 7.  In it, the prophet Samuel and the Israelites found themselves under attack by the Philistines.  Fearing for their lives, the Israelites begged Samuel the prophet to pray for them in their impending battle against this enemy. 

Samuel offered a sacrifice to God and prayed for His protection.  God listened to Samuel, causing the Philistines to lose the battle and retreat back to their own territory.  After the Israelite victory, the Bible records: "Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen, and called its name Ebenezer, saying, 'Thus far the Lord has helped us.'" (1 Samuel 7:12)

The word Ebenezer comes from the Hebrew words 'Eben ha-ezer, which simply means "stone of help".  An Ebenezer, then, is simply a monumental stone set up to signify the great help that God granted the one raising the stone.

I have found that when I have fear or trepidation about going forward, it does me good to look backward and count my Ebenezers - the monuments that acknowledge God's bountiful blessings and help in my life.

For example...after my daughter was born, I had terrible post-partum depression.  Everyone, including the doctor, said it would pass.  It didn't.  Over the next couple years it grew worse.  The insidious ruminating and obsessing over things and the anxiety that accompanied it were excruciating.  There were times that I pondered if I could keep going on like this?  I remember vividly one day - sobbing hysterically in my bed - begging God to help save me.  There were few words...just the Holy Spirit interceding with groans on my behalf.

As a last ditch attempt, I went to see a new Christian counselor and physician duo who finally diagnosed OCD (anxiety disorder) and depression (which often accompanies anxiety).  It was not that long after I was on the medication, that the dark, gray veil began to lift from my eyes.  God lifted me out of the slimy pit that I was in and He gave me a firm place to stand.  He put a new song in my heart (Psalm 40). 

The Lord heard me and He helped me, so here I raised my Ebenezer.

The Lord brought me through subsequent bouts with the OCD...each time I thanked Him and raised an Ebenezer.  He never left me stuck.  He was faithful to bring me through the valleys.

I faced the scare of the big "C" and all the testing and waiting and treatment that goes with it.

The Lord was faithful so I raised yet another Ebenezer.

Through multiple surgeries with long recuperations.  Through a difficult marriage and a long drawn out divorce...the Lord stayed close.  The battles were not easy and the enemy did his best to derail me, but the Lord prevailed.  He helped me.  He brought me through. He was faithful to His promises. 

So when I stand frightened or overwhelmed or doubtful about what lies before me...I look backward...

There on the horizon I see one monument after another after another of God's faithfulness to me.  I stand here now because He saw me through.  He was my stone of help - my Ebenezer.

This exercise in looking back, gives me the confidence to go forward.

Through each trial, God was growing and refining my character and in doing so He gave me the gift of HOPE!

"I boast in the hope of the glory of God.  Not only so, but I glory in my sufferings, because I know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character hope.  And hope does not disappoint, because God's love has been poured out in my heart through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to me."  (personalization of Romans 5: 2-5)

What hinders you from going forward with confidence?  What Ebenezers have you raised in your life?  If you haven't built monuments...where would be good places to build them now to remind you of God's help in your life?  What lessons would God have you take from the past to propel you into the future?

Dear Heavenly Father, I thank you for all the times, even when I've been unfaithful, you have remained faithful.  Thank you for the times that I called upon you and you heard my cry and you rescued me.  Even when I couldn't "feel" you, you were always there right beside me.  I praise you for being my everlasting help in times of trouble.  For all the times I've overlooked, I raise those Ebenezers now.  When the future scares me, let me look back and take confidence from all the monuments of your help in times of trouble and in times or prosperity.  You are truly faithful and let your faithfulness be my hope.  In Jesus' name I pray.  Amen.

Be blessed...

Miraculous things are happening in the lives of children who've been sponsored.  Off the streets and into a Christian school environment...their lives are being transformed!!  We desperately need help getting these children off the streets and into the classroom...would you consider giving so that they might have hope??
Even if you can't sponsor a child yourself would you consider a partial sponsorship?
Thank you...