Saturday, January 25, 2014

Psalm 23 for Parents

The Lord is my Father and I have all that I need.
He knows parenting is exhausting, so He leads me to times of rest and refreshment.
His Word guides me in how to train up my children and encourage them as they walk through life.
Even though I walk through the terrible two’s and the tumultuous teen years, I will not fear because your Word and your Holy Spirit are with me giving me comfort and strength.
You prepare me to depend on You more and more as my kids grow up.
You anoint my head with Your overflowing love, which makes it easy to show Your love to my kids and lead them in your ways.
Surely You are a good God, because You have blessed me with these children.
All the days of my life I will thank You for them.
Even though they will not always dwell in my house, I know they will always live in the home of my heart and You will be with them wherever they go.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Splash Blessings

One of my boys got in trouble and the punishment was no electronics for a week. This affected his twin brother as well. The electronics had to be turned off for both, so that the guilty one could not watch whatever his brother was doing. This caused great frustration for the innocent brother.
“Why do I have to suffer, when he is the one who got in trouble?” he asked indignantly.
“Sometimes people’s sin and the consequences splashes over onto us,” I answered.
“Well, I wish he would quit splashing his sin on me!” he retorted.

This is so true. Many times when someone sins, we feel the consequences. Or when we sin, other people are affected. A person speeding or texting while they are driving can run into an innocent person. That person’s sin has splashed on the innocent person.  Someone can cheat or steal something at their workplace, and all of a sudden management tightens up on everybody’s freedom. Their sin splashed on the whole company.
It is the same way with blessings. Remember the movie Pay it Forward? It is about a boy who starts a movement to do three people a favor. The favor cannot be a repayment, but something unexpected and helpful to the recipient. Isn’t that like splashing blessings on them? It is so easy to do. Maybe not the huge blessings, like buying someone a car. But splashing small blessings is easy. Have you ever let someone go in front of you at a check out line and seen how appreciative they are? How about letting someone in when you are driving and their lane ends? How about buying someone lunch or coffee?
One morning a woman in a big SUV was talking on her cell phone and cut me off getting in to the drive through at Starbucks. I didn’t think it would do any good to honk or outwardly express my irritation, because I didn’t think she even saw me or noticed what she did.  Imagine my surprise when I pulled up to order and the barista said through the intercom that the woman in front of me would like to pay for my order. Splash! Blessed! Just for fun, I decided to pay for the person behind me and splash a blessing on them as well.
Matthew 5:16 “Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
Lord, help me to remember that my sin affects other people. Help me to splash blessings on the people I come in contact with today.
How about you? Have you ever paid it forward? Or have you had someone splash a blessing on you lately?

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

A New Beginning

I didn’t know anything about her, except that this was her second time to church and she wanted to be baptized. Vince introduced her and said, “She wants to be a Jesus follower. Will you tell her how?”
Her name was Cathy and she looked about 25 years old. She was short with blonde hair and a pleasant face. Her round blue eyes looked eagerly at me as I started to talk. I asked if she had grown up going to church. She said no, that her parents never went to church.  A friend had invited her last week and she brought her three-year-old daughter by herself today.
Not wanting to repeat what she already knew, I asked her if she understood the message from the sermon. She said she did. I asked if she understood the prayer at the end, where the Pastor explained how to follow Jesus. She said yes, she did.
Then, I began to explain, “Jesus was born in a manger and lived a perfect life and died on a cross, to forgive us for all of our sins, past, present and future. It’s like our slate, our life, gets washed clean and we get to start over. Would you like that?” I asked. A smile spread across her face, “Yes, I would. I need that.”
I went on, “Ok, first we pray and ask God to forgive us for our sins. Then, we thank Him for sending His son, Jesus, to die on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins. Then, we commit our lives to follow Him, the best way we know how. When we do that, God sends His Holy Spirit to live inside us. He will guide you in how to live your new life as a Jesus follower. He will never leave you and will be with you where ever you are. Do you understand?
“Yes, that would be great,” she eagerly replied.
“Even though this prayer of committing your life is a one time thing, our new life of following Jesus is a journey. We all learn as we grow. We learn through coming to church. We learn through reading God’s Word, the Bible, every day. The Holy Spirit will help you."
I prayed out loud and she repeated what I said. I feared I had left out so much. Did she know what sin was? Or heaven or hell? I forgot to tell her how great God is and how much He loved her. I forgot to say that this would not make her life perfect, and that there would still be difficulties, but now she would have Jesus with her.
I held back saying, “ Do you know what a huge miracle this is, that the God of the universe picked you, out of all the people in our city, to come to church today? It is God who put the desire in your heart to want to have a relationship with Him. Your life will be blessed beyond measure from this day on.”
I had only just met her, so I didn’t want to smother her with Jesus. But I wanted to hug her and say, “Welcome to the family! I can’t wait for you to get to know this wonderful God, who has an incredible life planned for you!”
People do not wake up and out of the blue decide to come to church. God calls them because He loves them so much.
I left to get a New Believers Bible for her, while she went to pick up her daughter from the kid’s area.
“My daughter loves coming here,” she beamed excitedly. “All week she has asked when do we get to come back to church? She asked me everyday.”
She turned to me with new excitement in her eyes, and a huge smile. “I feel different already,” she told me. "Thank you for telling me about Jesus and praying with me. I had never heard that before. I can’t wait to come back next Sunday.
I can’t wait either.
She held her daughter’s hand and they walked out, both smiling with joy.
I never stop being in awe at how God calls people to Himself, forgives them with His amazing grace and changes their life forever.
It was all God. He did everything. I forgot to say so much. Where was my pen and paper to draw out the ‘The Bridge’ illustration, showing how we pass from death to life? I didn’t quote any Bible verses, not even John 3:16. And really, how is she going to believe the Bible if I didn’t tell her about Genesis 1:1 ‘In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth  . . .’?
It did not matter. Today was her day. God called her, prompted her to come to church, prepared her heart and mind to eagerly ask about God. He gave her understanding and the desire to follow Him.
Amazing grace that saved another wretch like me.
She came in lost and now was found.
She had been spiritually blind, He opened her eyes, and now she could see.