Encouragement from the Word

"I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth"
III John 1:4

Sunday, April 29, 2012

What Matters Most?

The message of the Bible describes a way of life that is contrary to today's typical lifestyle. In fact, it is the antithesis of the way most people today live. As you read the Word of God and study the life of Jesus, several ideas stand out. These ideas include: humility, service, selflessness, generosity, inclusiveness, obedience, submissiveness, and unconditional love. In addition, we are called to pass on the torch of faith to the next generation and to share the gospel so that others may come into the kingdom of God.

If we are to truly live out these principles in our every day lives we must make some difficult choices and be willing to "swim upstream", so to speak, against the tide of popular culture. Our priorities and our focus will be much different than the world's. In fact, we may seem a little "odd" to them. If we are doing the Christian life right, however, people will end up being drawn to us for our love, humility, kindness, and peace in the face of adversity.

In order to live a life that is pleasing to God and effective in furthering his kingdom, we may have to reevaluate our priorities and ask ourselves...what matters most?

My physical appearance, clothing and image or... my heart and spiritual condition

Collecting and purchasing more and more stuff or... being content, thanking God for what I have and sharing it with others

Using my abilities in order to receive admiration and recognition or...serving quietly and humbly for an audience of one

Spending endless hours and energy on building and maintaining a career while my children are young or...positioning myself as the "heart of the home" investing in my family as I pass on the torch of faith. ( having a job of some kind does not necessarily exclude a woman from being the heart of her home)

Spending all of my free time on worldly entertainment, relaxation and hobbies or..."laying up treasures in heaven"; giving of my time and energy to serve someone in need or less fortunate than I and teaching my children to do the same.

Emphasizing only monetary success, educational achievement and prestige as I direct my older children toward their future or...raising children who will seek God's direction for their education and career, whatever it may be, and will love and honor God with their lives.

Maybe it's time we adjusted our lifestyle to reflect more Christ-honoring values and priorities. We all need to do a life check every once in a while to make sure we have not become the proverbial "frog in boiling water" and allowed the world to subtly influence our values and priorities without us even realizing it. It's something to think about.


Monday, April 23, 2012

10 Things Happy People Know

   1) Happiness and positivity are a CHOICE. God can give you the strength to make that choice.

 2) God KNEW what was going to happen in your life and he is in total control. He will use your particular trial or situation to:

Shape you.  Sanctify you. Grow you. Change you.

3) Heaven is a real place and as a believer in Jesus Christ it is my future home. Jesus has gone ahead to prepare a place for me there...and it will be GLORIOUS! Nothing can pluck me out of his hand.

4) Other people do not have the power to destroy my peace and joy unless I LET them. I can always choose to:

Let things go. Resist jumping to conclusions. Not assume a sinister ulterior motive. Give people the benefit of the doubt.

5) There is great joy in SERVING others. It always helps to get our eyes off of ourselves and to focus on other people and the needs around us. When we do this, we're much less likely to dwell on our own problems.

6) It is my responsibility as a believer to be SALT AND LIGHT in the world. I should be an example of inner peace and enduring joy in times of testing. Your response to trouble and hardship will be watched by the world.

7) EVERYTHING will eventually pass. If you can look ahead to a week...a month...a year, down the road, you will realize that things will eventually:

Change. Get better. Heal. Be forgotten.

8) It is much wiser to say "no" than to over commit. Having too many irons in the fire does NOT a happy person make. You cannot do it all...regardless of what worldly wisdom says. SEEK THE LORD and do only what he is leading you to do.

9) Living to please people or to be accepted by the world will NEVER bring contentment and true peace. Live only to please God. Get over having to:

Look like. Dress like. Perform like. Shop like. Mother like. Volunteer like...

everyone else.

10) Starting the day with prayer is ESSENTIAL. As is spending time in the Word of God daily!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A Life Well-Lived...A Tribute to my Father

Today is the 4th anniversary of my father's death of Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. He was the the person I most admired and an invaluable example of Christ's love to me. I would like to share with you an article I wrote shortly after his death. I pray that it will inspire you and perhaps, in some way, strengthen your walk with the Lord.

A Life Well-Lived...A Tribute to my Father

“A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold” Proverbs 22:1

 My father’s funeral was not like anything I could have ever imagined. There were over 500 people in attendance, many of them standing in line for over an hour to give us a hug and words of condolence after the funeral. We stood there smiling and nodding as a lifetime of friends and family paraded by, reviving fond memories of our childhood. It felt surreal as my mother, brothers and I stood there receiving words of comfort and thanking people for coming. Could my Dad really be gone? Was that lifeless body in the casket really him? Or would Dad come bouncing up to us any moment with a cup of coffee in his hand wondering what all the fuss was about? In fact, we knew that since my Dad was a Christian, he was already in heaven sitting at the feet of Jesus, free from pain and full of joy! But still, we couldn’t help but grieve for the one we missed so deeply. So, we stood there in the receiving line, tears brimming in our eyes, as our friends, neighbors, Sunday school teachers and childhood playmates passed by, each one expressing what an impact Dad had made on their lives.

From the time that we found out  my Dad had non-Hodgkins lymphoma, my mind would sometimes drift to what this day might be like. But, I couldn’t think of it without crying.  The whole idea was heartbreaking .The fact was, my Dad and I were like “two peas in a pod”. We had similar views on so many issues, political, spiritual, and cultural. I also have a personality much like my Dad’s… easygoing with a positive attitude most of the time, but yet, opinionated when it came to something we were passionate about. We always seemed to be on the same side of any family discussion and had the same persistent way of arguing a point. Dad was my friend, my mentor, my spiritual advisor and my inspiration. I remember spending many hours during high school and college talking with him about life as we walked around a little lake in our neighborhood. I’ll never forget those special times.

Dad began his battle with cancer back in 1998. For ten years he went through radiation and chemotherapy, trying some of the latest cancer drugs and seeking treatment at several cutting edge cancer centers. He handled the cancer treatments incredibly well and continued to take his yearly hunting trips out west with his brothers where he would out-hike his younger siblings through the rugged mountains hunting for elk and big horn sheep. My Dad believed in hard work and he continued doing physical labor until the very end of his life, which came ten years after he was diagnosed. He was 80 years old when he finally lost his battle with cancer.

From the size of the crowd at the funeral you would think that my Dad was a man  of wealth, power and influence. The funny thing is…he was just the opposite. He left this world with a very modest amount of money from his real estate business and had never been in a position of political influence. So why did he have such an impact on so many people? It’s simple. Besides being the ultimate “people person”… my dad lived a life of service, love and compassion for others. Dad always lived as though people and relationships were more important than material things and tried to impart this bit of wisdom to us, as well. He would never hesitate to stop and help a “down and out” person who needed food or clothing. Or to help a widow who needed work done around her house. Of course, his ultimate goal would be to share the gospel message with them. For he knew that the answer to any problem could be found in Jesus Christ and that a relationship with Christ was every man’s greatest need.

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Biggest Danger Facing Christians Today

The biggest danger facing Christians in America today is not global warming; it's not chemical additives in our food; it's not even terrorism, as bad as that is. You see, as Christians, we know that when our physical life is over we will end up spending eternity in heaven with God himself. The grave does not mean defeat for us...in fact, it is the next phase of our eternal life in Christ. No... the biggest danger facing Christians today is a spiritual one...it's materialism.

For Christian families today, the lure of the world is great. It entices us with it's glittery, "feel-good" treasures that promise happiness, admiration and fulfillment. Why are we even tempted to go after these material trophies? Well, that's easy...we long to be accepted, admired and esteemed by the world. We want respect from our peers. We desire a lifestyle that is comfortable and exciting. We want to "keep up with the Joneses"! Basically, we believe in the world's definition of success...that is...having money, power and influence.

The problem is, once we jump on that roller coaster of acquiring things it's very hard to get off. We end up wanting more and more. Our possessions begin to take priority over everything else in life including people. That powerful position you've attained may distract you from God's true calling on your life. Pride may become a stumbling block in your relationship with the Lord and others. Those things you worked so hard to own, may end up owning you!

As Christians, we need to look to God's Word for our standard of success. If we look closely at what the Bible says ,we will see that it is polar opposite of the world's view.

"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

Matthew 6:19-21

What does it mean to "store up our treasures in heaven", as mentioned in the verse above? Loving and serving others, giving our time, money and energy to further his kingdom, raising our children in the Lord and sharing the gospel with those at home and abroad fit into this category.

"People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs."
1 Timothy 6: 9-10