Tuesday, February 22, 2011

In Other Words--Loving not Alienating


"Nothing humbles and breaks the heart of a sinner
like mercy and love.
Souls that converse much with sin and wrath,
may be much terrified;
but souls that converse much with grace and mercy,
will be much humbled.”

~Thomas Brooks (1608 – 1680)~
Some events over the weekend reminded me of a friend who came to know Christ a few years ago. When German and I first met him we commented how sad it was that he wasn't a believer--he lived with integrity, had a comfortable life and didn't see a need for God. He was one of those "good guys" who didn't do anything majorly bad so really did not see himself as a sinner.

His sin could have been pointed out to him. He could have been hit over the head with the news of the depravity of man. He could have been admonished that no one was good. He could have easily been alienated from the things of Christ.

Instead, we (and others) just chose to love him. Include him. Enjoy his company and the company of his family. We invited him to events at church he might enjoy. We declined invitations that interfered with church and made other arrangements. And when he hit a difficult time we offered to pray for him (and faithfully prayed) and just loved his family.

Then we each moved different directions chasing career. We stayed in touch, but not real close. One day German got an email that simply said, "I thought you would want to know I was baptised last week." Rejoicing.

I am so thankful we chose the path of loving than of preaching. So thankful he found acceptance and not alienation. And now we have eternity with him.

Father God, help me to be more loving, more merciful, extend more grace and proclaim less judgment. Help me love my friends into your kingdom for your sake. Amen.

This week Twinkle Mom of Sunflower Faith is our hostess. It is her very first time to host In Other Words. Please go welcome her and join the conversation. Blessings my friends!

Monday, February 07, 2011

Marriage Monday--First Love

There is a wonderful community of ladies that meet every month at the home of e-Mom (Chrysalis) and discuss the topic of marriage.  Sometimes poignant, often funny and always wise, these ladies stretch me and encourage me. This month instead of focusing on marriage, we have been asked to share our story of how we met our "First Love" as a way of encouraging one another as well as getting to know each other better.  I am so looking forward to reading their stories. I hope  you will visit some of the sites as well and get to know this amazing group of women (and maybe even join in the fun!).

My story of my path to faith is not very exciting, but I am thankful for that.  I was blessed with parents who were very involved in the church. I started attending at a few weeks old and just never stopped. My earliest memories are in the church preschool department learning about God through playdough theology and felt board stories. "Miss Rose" and "Aunt Josie" gave me a strong foundation of a loving God.  During Vacation Bible School on my seventh birthday I "walked down the aisle" and said I wanted to be baptised. A few days before I had sat in my bedroom with Mom and Dad, prayed and said the same thing. As much as I was able to understand at age seven, I knew that I was not doing all that God wanted me to do and I knew that I wanted to go to heaven and that Jesus was the bridge between those two realities.

Later, in Junior High at church camp, I would be faced with more decisions about whether Jesus was just my Saviour or also my Lord. I was realising that there was more to faith than just a quick prayer to get me to heaven. Over the next few years that relationship of Jesus as Lord would deepen. By the time I went to University, those roots were deep. In University I was involved with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship leading small groups and going to Urbana. I was more and more drawn to full-time ministry, even though little girls raised Southern Baptist knew that full-time ministry was off limits to them. But apparently it was not off limits to God. By the end of my senior year, I was sure my Math degree would not be used as I originally thought. Instead, it was the catalyst to get into a Church Social Work program in seminary and to train.

I am grateful that my parents were faithful believers and church attenders. They introduced me to my first love early in my life. And He quickly became just that. I know that I have been protected from so many hurts and stumbling blocks along the way because of that early introduction and acceptance. Although I may not have a dramatic conversion experience, I am forever changed by a God who met me as a little girl who wanted to go to heaven and grew the relationship to the woman I am today. I pray that I am able to shepherd my own little girls to have such a relationship as well.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

In Other Words--Irreversibly Changed for Good


Thank you for joining me for In Other Words today. I pray as you visit sites, read posts on the quote and maybe even post your own thoughts that you will be blessed by reflecting on how God irreversibly changes us.

“I will never be the same again,
I can never return, I’ve closed the door.
I will walk the path, I’ll run the race
And I will never be the same again.”
~ lyrics by Geoff Bullock ~

The first time I heard this song was two or three weeks after moving to England. It struck a deep chord as I realised that this two year experience was going to be one of those moments that God would use to forever change me. This week we celebrate our tenth year of this two year experience. As we travel and visit in the US, I am once again struck with how much we have changed--in language, taste, world awareness and dependence on God.

Perhaps I am more aware because we chose the grand experimental expat life that events change you forever, but I do know that it is not only in the huge changes in our lives that he changes us. Our journey with God should always be changing and transforming us. The Psalmist calls us to
Sing to the LORD a new song,
for he has done marvelous things;
his right hand and his holy arm
have worked salvation for him.
The LORD has made his salvation known
and revealed his righteousness to the nations.
Psalm 98:1-2
I've written before how amazed I am each year as God deepens and changes my song. That is how it should be. Every time we trust God and take another step of faith we should be forever changed.

In the last two years we have walked through a leadership upheaval at church, a change of job, a move to a new city followed quickly by a move to a different house, the loss of my mother, the change of church membership and involvement, and the settling into new routines. Any one of these events could have challenged us to abandon our faith. Yet at each step of the way, he has not abandoned us. He has proven faithful and used each event to deepen us and strengthen us. When all else was lost, He was the one sure thing. I cannot go back to the person I was two years ago. It is impossible. I cannot be the same daughter I was--that irreversibly changed with my mother's death. I cannot be the same teacher/minister I was--that irreversibly changed with the leadership upheaval. I cannot be the same wife I was--shared experiences change how we relate. Relationships changed. Emotional ties strengthened. Dependence on God and not man's approval deepened.

I will never be my 2009 self again. And that is good. In 2015, I should be able to say "I will never be my 2011 self again." God is constantly growing us so that we are not the same again. Sometimes that growth comes with pain, but that growth is worth it.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Romans 12:2

Thank you Father for not ever leaving me where I am at but for always growing me to the next goal. Keep me always changing. Help me to always be thankful for the change. Amen

Please join us by sharing ways God has changed you, irreversibly. We would love to be encouraged by your story. You can link to your post below. Thanks for coming and have a blessed day!