Friday, December 11, 2009
Finally, one innkeeper is beseeched for the sake of Mary's condition to give them a place in the straw beside the stock in the man's small stable carved out of the stone hills around Bethlehem. Joseph looks at Mary with as much encouragement as he can muster at this paultry offer of shelter. She smiles back and nods as if to say, "It's OK, Joseph. It's not your fault the inns are full."
They enter this manure and straw shelter and make a space amongst the beasts. Joseph helps Mary gently off the donkey. The animal is too tired to eat the straw and lays down to sleep after taking in some water from the trough. Mary's labor pains are coming more frequently now.
Joseph has helped to birth lambs and goats, but never a baby. He prays to the Father the delivery of His Son will go well. Mary's birthing cries are heard on high in the heavens and the angels begin their journey down to the stable and to the shepherds. These lonely and wayfaring men on earth are gazing into the night skies around Bethlehem at a remarkable star God has moved into their small corner of the world. The flocks of their beloved sheep are asleep close by.
Mary makes her last and final push to give birh. Joseph brings out the baby, clears his mouth of mucous with his finger, and holds him by his feet to spank his first breaths of this world's air into his nostrils and mouth. He cuts the umbilical cord and puts this small and holy being up to Mary's waiting breast. There are tears of joy for both these young lovers as Jesus nurses. Joseph plumps up the straw and lies down beside Mary to encircle her and the child with his arm. He nods off to sleep.
And so, "unto us a child is born and unto us a Son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end...The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this." (Isaiah 9:6-7)
Isaiah's words are given peering hundreds of years into the future for this momentous birth; and we stand amazed in the presence of the Holy Spirit, gazing back thousands of years to the grandeur of God's design. The Everlasting Father's desire for man to be justified by faith in the baby who became a man on mission to fulfill God's prophetic words has just begun. The Messiah has come, and our spiritual heartbeats are enlivened by this miracle!
Sleep in heavenly peace, little child of God. Sleep in heavenly peace.
Saturday, November 21, 2009
It's that happy time of year again when families argue over whose going where on what holiday and at what time. Grandma's too far away to visit, but she wouldn't leave her doctors anyway, not even for a free plane ticket. Uncle Brad is upset for hearing the truth a long time coming, Uncle Jeff wants to crawl into his usual cave of paranoia, and Uncle Rick could care less what happens to any of us as he has his wife and his mothern-in-law to care for. As one pundant said, "You can't pick your family, but you sure can pick your friends."
On this Thanksgiving, I am most thankful for my friends because they actually keep in touch with me and show they care. I'm invited over to a friend's home for this very family-oriented holiday. No more feeling like a fried turkey for me, no sir! I am going to have a blast even if the hostess doesn't stuff the turkey with Prozac to help things along. My part in all this is the mashed potatoes and the cranberry sauce. Wow, what a relief after decades of doing a huge dinner for my own family!
As it happens, I plan wearing my loosest jeans and sloppiest sweatshirt to make lots of room for food and good belly laughs, thus concealing midriff girth jiggling beneath loose clothing. When you're a guest, there are no worries. I can leave home with my bed unmade, my dirty breakfast dishes still in the sink, and the laundry half finished without a second thought. Ahhhh!
I imagine Mary's sister Martha, after she was scolded by the Master not to concern herself with the things of this world, feeling the weight of preparation taken off her shoulders, too. She could knock around in that first century kitchen with as much gusto or as little as she wanted, just so long as the meal eventually got served. People who were her guests didn't care. She probably kicked back on a kitchen stool and sipped a glass of wine before resuming her cooking. Maybe she even put a little of what she was consuming into the stew--who knew what she was tossing together? Maybe she had a food fight with a few of her maids and laughed herself silly?
Praise the Good Lord for laughter, it is such good medicine (Proverbs). I hope you laugh over at least one thing this Thanksgiving. Laugh because all you can afford is grilled cheese and tomato soup, laugh if you have to fast until Friday after Thanksgiving for your next check (turkey will be marked down along with all those thematic cakes and cookies), or laugh simply because God said it was good.
"Joy to the world, the Lord has come!" If he hasn't come to your home lately through laughter, let it deck the halls instead of holly.
Blessings and Agape as always,
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Recently, I was with a group of friends sharing a meal. There were eight of us at the table, and one person monopolized the whole meal’s conversation. I was disappointed not to get to know the other six people in the group. I wish I could have found the politically correct way to get the woman to give it a rest for the sake of all the others. To be sure, the seven of us were being kind listeners.
This week I got bad news from my daughter. I asked her on the phone how she and the baby she was carrying were doing? Since she’s the only nuclear family I have left on this earth, she’s important to me. She said, “I lost the baby, Mom. It was an unusual condition and happens in about one out of a thousand pregnancies.” My heart was pricked. The words ripped another hope away from my sense of family.
She then said, “I have also broken off my wedding engagement.” I was stunned into silence. I let her tell me "how great it is to be back to just me and Andrew and to be so free". I said, “I’m sorry about your baby and about your fiancé. He seemed like such a nice guy.” It turns out he wasn’t so nice, and she elaborated.
I have to give her credit for not marrying because he wasn’t the kind of match she wanted, but I do hope she won’t remain a single mom forever. My preschool grandson is precious, and I believe he deserves a dad on a full-time basis; and my daughter needs to have the love of an excellent Christian husband. So I pray. And I pray some more. I pray until God is weary of me knocking on the Gates of Heaven with my intercessory missives. It seems life now is upside down with the moon above the sun. The son-in-love I hoped to have soon is going down into my daughter’s list of “thrown-to-the-curb” men in her life of twenty-four years.
I searched the scriptures for the exact words to weld onto my spiritual heartbeats after I hung up the phone from my daughter’s call. This scripture spoke intimately to a widow with one adult child.
"I will wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope. My soul waits for the Lord, more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning."
I will wait with hope for a bright morning, a day of fulfillment of my hopes as God is my witness.
Can you wait upon the Lord, too? Can you keep the watch for those you love and your hope at the same time? I pray you can, my dear sisters and brothers in Christ.
Saturday, October 3, 2009
This weekend I sojourned to such a place. A special retreat for writers of Christian media happens each year in October in a private cabin in the North Carolina Mountains. Many of the women have been coming for all six of the retreats thus far. As a result we’ve melded into a sisterhood of Christian writers. We keep in touch throughout the year by email or blogging. Our accomplishments in publications and our lives’ highs and lows are celebrated and prayed over. We’re family.
During the retreat we had the blessings of a live-in chef extraordinaire, and a loving hostess who provided extra toiletries and accommodated for any special needs. The paramount blessing was being cocooned inside the grandeur of God’s creation. What is it about these Appalachian Mountains that puts our hearts and lives into perspective? Is the air clearer, the sky bluer, the birds more joyful in song? Whatever it is, life is at a pace of ease allowing our minds to unlock secrets and satisfy the thirsting soul for drops of love from Heaven.
This past weekend we have shared from our hearts and souls through our writing, our reading, our devotions and all the great meal conversations. I had one of the best roommates ever. It seems we have lived very similar lives and experienced much of the same heartaches within a half century. Our friendship reached a higher level and now we have promised to be accountable to each other within a small critique group birthed out of our retreat. “What a friend we have in Jesus, all our joys and griefs to share…”
Can you find a time in your own life where you can retreat for several days without your own biological family? I think this is critical for your soul and spirit to grow immeasurably. It broadens your network of friends in Christ. It opens your heart to the trials and dreams of others. Lastly, it spreads a sense of awe about God and his ability to give you such wonderful gifts in this life. Makes me want to shout—Hallelujah! I see a glimpse of heaven here on earth.
"But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen." NIV, 2 Peter 3: 18
Monday, August 31, 2009
This past weekend I attended yet another Writing Workshop to hone my skills as a Christian writer and blogger. Even though doing these activities wipes my energy level out for at least two days, and I "make like a rock"; it is what is needed to keep me writing and telling others about life with Christ. For who can bear the thought of life without the hope He alone can offer? (John 3:16-17)
I am reminded so many times of the scripture song from a monk years ago about Mathew Chapter 11, verses 28 to 29. We must take up Christ's yoke, for it is easy and His burden is light. What a conundrum! When we, as Christians, are under the worst of circumstances and trials, Jesus says: take up my yoke, my burden, don't worry my little child.
I have already gotten an email from a fellow vertically ill (FMS) woman in Myrtle Beach--the very location where we were having our Writers' Workshop. She felt that God wanted her to email me although nothing about my faith was allowed in the article. Divine providence? I checked my email after I returned to the Upstate. If I can point her to this blog site for comfort and assurance, to her Savior, Jesus Christ, and to the Almighty Father who reigns supreme, my spiritual heartbeats will target those of God.
When was the last time you really spent time praising God? He lives within the praises of His people. Praise Him now for both the good and the difficult things in your life. He needs to know you are aware of His acts in all aspects of your life. There are no coincidences, only Divine Appointments. He's waiting for your appointment with Him right now.
Blessings from and to all the "vertically ill" everywhere,
"Living Single with FMS: Advice from a Ten Year Veteran", Fibromyalgia Network e-newsletter, August, 2009
Monday, July 6, 2009
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Our need for God as Christians is as ever-present as our need to breathe oxygen. It reminds me of the old hymn I Need Thee Every Hour because we can never be whole and righteous here on earth. Our soul's cry is ever-constant to have Christ's blood covering of grace and forgiveness to protect us from an unjust enemy.
I recently finished reading Crazy Love by Francis Chan. This book should light a fire under any coach potato Christian who accepts God's tremendous love but rarely returns it. I am particularly convicted of the need to love two sets of callous and unapproachable neighbors. As God would have it, they are unchurched and flabby at best in their spiritual walk with God as far as I can discern.
How can I love thee? Let me count the ways:
- Pray daily for my attitude and for their full salvation and discipleship in Christ.
- Promote love with random acts of kindness anonymously.
- Compliment them with sincerity of heart when possible.
- Thank them for keeping up their front yards (even if their back yards are a mess).
- Keep being friendly toward their pets and/or children.
- Invite them to church after our friendship is established.
- Give them cards and gifts at Christmas and Easter and expect nothing in return.
- Find out when they have birthdays and send a Christian greeting card.
- Above all else, let their meanness toward you not invoke a spirit of revenge or bitterness (that's your human sin nature crying out--so tell it to be quiet in Jesus' name).
Perhaps you have a similar situation in your neighborhood. Just remember, Jesus encountered no true welcome as the Messiah in his own home town, and neither should we expect to be liked by everyone. Be grateful for the neighbors who do believe in Jesus and are kind to you, but don't forget to love those who despise you. They need your love more than anyone.
Have a wonderful Independence Day and say a prayer for all those who have fought to keep our country free. Ask the Father to humble you into loving in new, outstanding, and courageous ways, as Francis Chan would say.
Sunday, June 14, 2009
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
If there is one thing that saps your energy and motivation more than constant body-wide pain, I don’t know about it. It’s a dangerously self-absorbing condition, too. You begin to think, “How can I minister to others when I can barely take care of myself?”
How would you answer God if He asked you about your weariness in doing good? Would you say, “Lord, you understand why I am mostly home bound, don’t go on mission trips, or attend church regularly”? Would you say, “Until you heal me, Lord, I can’t be of use to the Kingdom of God”? Would you say, “I’ll just wait until the medical profession comes up with a cure before I become your good and faithful servant”?
All of these responses leave out the most extravagant gift of service you can give to any person—prayer! No matter where you are or in what condition or circumstances, a believer’s spiritual heartbeats can always turn his/her heart toward prayer.
I recently saw on a church marquee these words, “If you are having trouble standing, fall to your knees.” How often we excuse our absence from God’s good works by omitting prayer. As Americans we are somehow conditioned to think delivering a meal, manual labor, or a trip to needy believers is required. Our heavenly Father is much more pleased with personal communion than any work we might do.
Stop today and think about praying for your neighbors, your church members, your church pastors and staff, your city officials, your state governing body and their assistants, and your national leaders and Cabinet members. Nothing great in the history of God and man was ever accomplished without the fervent prayer of at least one believer. In many instances, whole bodies of believers were asked to fast and pray.
List now from memory some of the extravagant and seemingly impossible prayers recorded in the Bible that resulted in God’s power being displayed. Remember, even a feeble and frightened person can pray.
Meditate on Christ’s prayer of anguish in the Garden of Gethsemane as he sweat drops of blood from the strain of knowing his torture and death were near at hand. In Christ’s most painful, last moments on the cross, He was still talking with His Father in heaven. Yes, it is a tall order to simultaneously suffer and supplicate for others.
Sunday, April 26, 2009
A person said to me recently, "You need to smile more." It was the mirror image of a joyless Christian he saw. I knew it was the devil's second best kill thrill subtracting joy from my life, so I have decided to smile frequently just to spite Satan's efforts. My soul is secured for eternity with Christ, but my joy will forever be the manifestation of this fact. My spiritual heartbeats of joy must orchestrate the tempo of my life to be a better witness and to glorify God.
"Victoy in Jesus, my Savior forever" was not written by a pouty-faced wet blanket, so why do we allow the devil to rob us of our joy? One way is allowing circumstances to be our focus instead of our position within the body of Christ as one of His beloved. Another way is to associate constantly with people who have lost their own Christian joy. Lastly, receding from church, declining fellowhip with like-minded followers of Christ, and eliminating prayer can also bring a halt to our joy.
The human heart can be fooled into thinking death might be better than life, since no more trials and tears need to be born. Even as I see my own life framed by the deaths of so many immediate family members, I see the fallacy of this thinking. If God hasn't chosen to remove me from this world, then His will is for my life to continue and to be of service glorifying Him. We don't decide on death unless we have despaired and turned our back on God in a moment of weakness--a moment the devil relished.
Most of us know of someone, in a moment of weakness, who despaired and turned his/her back on God and His power to revive. We know those who have believed that suicide was a way to escape the tears and turbulence of this life. Long before this person died, the devil was leaking his acid of self-hate into the believer's weakest point of armor. It was killing the believer's joy, the devil's second-best coup to denigrate the name of Christ.
The lily pad is a great image of our position to God and Satan in this life. It lays atop the water, floating and facing toward heaven. It blooms in its appointed season. If it is dragged under by some weight, it dies in dark waters. It goes dormant without the warmth of the sun. So it is with believers--we balance delicately between heaven and earth, attached to the murky waters of life and sometimes tangled up by the weight of difficult circumstances. When we allow the Son to shine into our souls, we blossom and become something beautiful for God and others to see.
My challenge for you is to be aware of joyfulness versus joylessness. Decide which kind of Christian you wish to be for your Savior. Smile toward heaven and others or frown into the darkness of this world--it's your choice.
Here's smiling at you!
L. B. Greer
Saturday, March 28, 2009
When you left home and sojourned on your adult pathway, what did you expect? As Christians, Jesus never promised us blue skies and a bowl of cherries for our life here on earth. With every ounce of his blood, body, and breath, He suffered to teach us how to suffer. I Peter 2:21 says "To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps."
Did He whine about his lot in life? Did He blame somebody else? Did He refuse to do God's will because it was too painful? The answer to all these questions is a redundant and resounding "No".
Now examine your own answers to these questions. Where do you stand in being Christ-like in your sufferings? I know I have often whined about my life and tried to blame others. I know I am resistant to do God's will at times because it hurts my pride. What a puny Christian I am!
When He returns to call us home, I pray Jesus will look beyond my faults and see my need. We all need Him. Not one of us is an unblemished lamb. Sometimes we try to appear unblemished to those we wish to impress, but as we grow in our walk we must be more transparent and more touched by our frailties.
If it weren't for Christ, where would this poor soul be? I say "Amen" to the great "I am" giving me a purpose and a plan for my life"--and it's not to whine or blame. The Bible says His Name is Wonderful, Magnificent, Almighty, All-powerful,... You fill in your own favorite praise names for the "author and finisher of our faith".
My spiritual heartbeats begin to soar as I count His blessings and His forbearance in my life. He is my portion, my shield, my cornerstone, my husband, and my first love always. I hope Christ is all that and more to each of you today.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Have you had a really frustrating day with your computer where you were tempted to throw it from a second story window to the pavement? Today was that day for me.
For the last 3 days I have not been able to find my email or my bookmarks. Furthermore all the icons and fonts were extra large as if I were a visually challenged person. However, this evening I prayed earnestly that whatever God's will was for my life, I would accept it--even if I didn't understand. I surely did not understand what craziness was going on with my laptop.
Once more after putting my three sweet little doggies to bed, I decided to unplug power to my ISP modem, wait reverently for those 30 seconds, replug, and then reboot my laptop. All I can say is that God performed a miracle and gave me back tons of emails and file folders and bookmarks...and my sanity as well.
So, if you ever need prayer over your techie equipment, I will be there for you! I empathize emphatically. Just send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will respond.
My spiritual heartbeats can't wait to see what prayer God will answer next. Right now, I could sure use some help putting together a chain saw. I have a huge fallen limb from the snow storm in early March waiting to be converted to firewood.
Remember, dear ones, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." (Phillipians 4:4-7) "Anything" includes laptops and messed up software, praise God.
I also recommend that if you a.re finishing your 11th grade, this summer is the best time to take coaching from Academics Upward Tutoring
Sunday, March 8, 2009
It was sunny and in the high 60’s when the plane took off from the burgeoning green of Florida. I had just been blessed with about four days of a Christian writers’ conference. As the plane approached and descended to the GSP airport, there was a whitewash of all landscape below lying under a half foot of snow. How opposite the weather can be in less than two hours of flying. Alas, change is inevitable in the landscape of our lives as well.
Can you remember back to your youth and the dreams you had? What did you want to be when you grew up? What did you say when your parents or extended family asked about your future? It is unlikely you said: “I want to be a light unto the world and salt unto the earth.”
After all is said and done, however, this job description becomes a universal tuning fork for those of us who believe in the spiritual heartbeats of a child of God. Each time I hear of one more soul entering eternity, the question of whether this person met God’s job description arises poignantly. This week one neighbor who suffered with cancer and also the sister of a dear Christian writer went to reside with Jesus. My mind grapples with this moment of transition; within a few heartbeats I reverently whisper, “You, child of God--how blessed you are to escape this sin-stained world.”
Whatever mirth, whatever pleasure, and whatever adrenaline rush we may experience in this life, it must pale tremendously to the one last heartbeat within our passage of leaving this world and entering God’s realm of infinite glory. It is the last mystery we must contemplate on ground zero.
Along with our future, we must also realize that we leave a legacy to those still trapped in earthly bodies. What will your legacy be? Will you be known for your spiritual fruit, your sense of humor, or your duty and honor to your country? Some of us may have flashbacks to some traumatic events that dramatically changed our life’s pathways forever. Did we learn God’s lessons in these or did we blindly put one boot in front of the other and trudge on aimlessly?
I hope and pray that at the end of your days, you can say “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Phillipians 4:13)
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Eight years ago my life was a mess. I had just returned from an unsuccessful teaching job in the Persian Gulf area, my home in Florida was still under rental contract, and it was mid-Fall term for my high schooler, Dixie. My elder daughter, April, was pregnant out of wedlock, and I was trying desperately to get full-time work at a college or university. State budget cut-backs left the market lean in North Carolina where my younger daughter and I moved from overseas to be near April and to welcome my first grandchild into the world.
Dixie and I moved into a moderately sized ranch home for rent with a garage for the new US car I had just bought. I was blessed by God to get some adjunct work at the local community college for the Spring Term during mostly day-time hours so I could be home for Dixie to make a good dinner.
Our overseas shipment from the Middle East took 4 months to arrive by ship and required a rental truck and a trip to Charlotte to pick it up and bring it back to central North Carolina. When we first got to the US and rented the house, we made a mad dash with a friend, his truck, and rented trailer to get beds and basics from Florida storage until the shipped goods arrived. For the first few months, it was the bleakest home I had lived in for 25 years.
During that brief period of about 8 months in North Carolina, my granddaughter arrived early by one month and needed Neonatal Intensive Care at Chapel Hill. The paramedic drove Ashton by ambulance over an hour from where I and my daughters were living. It was a bittersweet blessing, for little Ashton was bound to be adopted out from birth.
April, Dixie, and I were able to visit her over 10 days while she was still in the hospital. It was just enough time to fall in love with the little baby, pray her into good health, and then give her to her adoptive parents living somewhere in the North Carolina Piedmont. We had a little "handing over" ceremony in the hospital's chapel that broke a number of hearts, not the least of which was April's.
Two years later, April was again far along into another pregnancy with the same man, but did not live to give birth to her little girl. She was murdered on Valentine's Day by her live-in of the last three years. I would find out at the trial over 2 years later it was a brutal murder, dismemberment, and a horrible burial in a trash can underwater--she was missing for over two months before she and the baby girl inside her were found on Easter Monday washed ashore after God's excessive Spring rains.
I yearned to have contact with Ashton during this belated trial and hold on to something good and real from April's life. One day during the two months of an excrutiating and exhausting murder trial, I received my first letter from Ashton's adoptive parents. I read it over and over. I wept over and over. The last living link to my deceased daughter was out of my reach for no less than sixteen more years and there was nothing I could do but pray and keep sending gifts and letters through the adoption agency.
As a grandmother to Ashton, I did pray. I prayed her life would turn out so much better and brighter and happier than her mother's life. I prayed she would receive the Lord early in her life, and He would help her to navigate through the dangers and pitfalls of this world. I prayed for her parents to love and discipline her with fairness and kindness. But part of my prayers were always a little selfish. I prayed that God would break the wall of silence that fell between me and Ashton's parents.
Four years later, God who is "my rock and my fortress and my deliverer"(Psalms 18:2) was able to break that wall, and I now have in my possession a second letter thanking me for the Christmas gifts from this past year. There were many details about Ashton and her personality and spiritual gifts. Beauty filled my soul with joyful elation as I read the letter. I kept whispering "Thank you, Jesus; thank you, Jesus; thank you, Jesus..."
The beautiful smile on my face was from thankful heartbeats of a grandmother who had seen God be my rock when I doubted I would ever hear about Ashton again. It was on my face from protective heartbeats of a grandmother who prayed for God's fortress to surround Ashton and her new family. It was on my face from knowing Ashton had been delivered by her own profession of faith in July, 2008. Ashton was seven years old then and I realized April also gave her life to Jesus when she was seven--a divine coincidence of mother and child.
Even if I never see her physically this side of eternity, I will see Ashton forever and ever in heaven. "Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe; Sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow." I am striving evermore eagerly to be nearer to God and farther from the hollowness of this world.
What beauty has filled your soul recently? Sing praises to God for He is our rock, our fortress, and our deliverer!
Thursday, February 5, 2009
In the closing verses of Matthew Chapter 11, Christ tells us to take His yoke because it is easy and His burden is light. How many of us on a daily basis can say we feel unburdened and lighthearted? It all depends on our perspective, doesn't it?
Take for example the people of Zimbabwe. Recently our church hosted several missionaries home on furlough to assist in our Global Missions emphasis. My Sunday School class was honored with our key speaker for Sunday worship and also for a cozy Saturday evening potluck where we could converse with Greg about his mission home, Zimbabwe.
Greg and his wife have been on mission to see lives given to Christ in Zimbabwe for 21 years, but Greg also grew up in the country with his missionary parents. He speaks the native tongue perfectly. I am sure that Zimbabwe feels more like home to him than anywhere in the US.
I learned from Greg how burdensome survival has become in the past 8 years for the people of Zimbabwe. A very corrupt and selfish regime has been in control and has stripped the country of its resources and money to the point where only the most powerful people live well. Most of the energy of the population is spent in survival mode.
Four million Zimbabwe residents have moved out of the country to neighboring countries to have a better life and to send money back to relatives still caught in a pathetic and poverty stricken lifestyle. The currency in Zimbabwe is worthless and inflation is 1600% compared to the years of prosperity in the 1990's. White farmers have been driven out of their working farms and homes to sate the greed of the militia involved in the overthrow of the last government. Now the farms across the country produce nothing and are in shambles.
And yet, God has seen fit to bless the native people with missionaries who bring people out of the bondage of Satan and his crafty and wicked ways. Hundreds have given up up the idol worship of the ancestral ways. Greg testified to some very dramatic conversions where the presence of evil spirits in a person were driven out and the freedom felt by the new believer was exhilarating and cause for joyous song and dance for all the witnesses.
What can we glean from such circumstances? On the one hand, the outward Yoke of life has not changed one iota, but inwardly in the spirit their is the beginning of "a future with hope" as it says in Jeremiah, Chapter 29:11. Every believer can view the world as it is or the world as it will become under Christ's Lordship. In the former you will only have a heavy yoke of frustration, but in the latter your heartbeat will be light and easy.
Sunday, January 25, 2009
Change my heart, oh God; Make me ever new!
Change my heart, oh God; Make me more like you.
Why is this one of my favorite Christian choruses? Is it because it is a chorus pleading for change through God's power each day? Yes, that is its beauty! If I ever get to the place where I am no longer pliable clay in the hands of my Heavenly Father, then I can no longer become the woman he wants me to be.
Having practiced "throwing a pot" for the first time well into middle age, this chorus captured even more of my attention. In order to prepare the clay before it is ever put on the potter's wheel, it undergoes rigorous pounding and slamming to release unwanted air that will ruin the pot and perhaps crack it in the kiln.
Just as the air must be eliminated before molding, our self-sufficient attitude must be eliminated so we can yield to God's authority over our lives. Until we can admit that Christ is God's eternal and unequivocal portal into the kingdom of faith, we are useless raw mud, stiff-necked and proud.
Perhaps that is the route you, too, have taken before surrendering to God. I know that I had to undergo some very hurtful experiences and brokenness up through young womanhood before I could be the kind of mud ready for God's pottery wheel.
Even so, the spinning and application of lubricating Holy Spirit water is necessary to properly throw the readied mud. Have you just been set on the potter's wheel and are still waiting for His Hands? Have you been spun and reshaped over and over? Do you believe you are in the final stages before the kiln?
Regardless of where you are in your formation of who God wants you to be, remember that there have been thousands before you on that same wheel and in that same kiln. Remember Meshach, Shadrach, and Abednigo? Their kiln experience certainly cemented and authenticated their faith in a Living God.
My hope for you, as you become more pliable for God and thus more useful, is this: Do it with willing and joyful heartbeats and without fear of what God is creating--it's all good.
Thursday, January 15, 2009
I recently submitted a devotional to The Upper Room with this title. It is a question we subconsciously ask ourselves each time we meet a new person.
Within these four words, a great deal is implied. We are asking many questions between the lines. Will you become a close friend or just an acquaintance? Will you be someone I can trust, even confide in? Will you come to my home one day as a welcomed guest or I to yours? Will you pray for me and I for you? Will I be able to ask for your help someday? Will our friendship become a key part of my future growth spiritually, socially, and/or psychologically? When I die, will you be someone who will mourn my passage out of this sin-stained world?
When we meet fellow Christian writers, more questions arise. When I have something published, will you be one who will rejoice with me or envy me? If I need you to honestly critique my writing, will you give me an honest analysis?
Perhaps I read too much into this question "Are you my neighbor?", but I know that Christ's parable of the Good Samaritan was not addressing people who lived next door to each other. They were "two very different ships passing in the night". This is the society and mixing bowl of cultures in which we live. But the Samaritan had merciful heartbeats for the injured and robbed person. Out of his own time and money, he cared for this stranger he just met, never expecting anything in return.
Christ died and I believe he did it all for our sakes, never expecting anything in return. How could we possibly return all that He gave us with his last heartbeat on the cross? It was all that Heaven had to offer,an inheritance outside the realm of the real and natural.
What kind of neighbor are you? What kind of neighbor do you wish to become in this New Year?
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
Do you remember when you were first pregnant as a couple? It was the first sound of the child within through the stethoscope that made your first memorable moment as a family. And so it is with God, when you first accept His Love and He inclines His ear to your sinner's prayer of belief. God hears your first spiritual heartbeat, faint, but oh how joyful your Father is when He hears it for the very first time! He exclaims, "Hello, My child" and calls you by name.
As a Christian and as a writer, I know that our spiritual heartbeats are not always strong and loud. Sometimes the noise of the world crowds out the sound, even though God is still inclining His ear and waiting to hear from our heart. It is in those moments that we realize how far we have wandered from His Stethoscope--His Spiritual Will for our lives.
If you have passed the half century mark, then you know that your heart must be strong and consistent in order to stay alive in a world that would kill your very soul at every corner and every turn. The experiences of life that are painful will either drive us toward God or away from Him.
Consider drawing close to Him today and staying there until finally your heartbeat is enveloped into the rhythm of His heartbeat. Nothing could be more peaceful or rewarding this side of eternity, I am certain.
Hoping your New Year will develop in You
New Ways to walk to the Tune of His Heartbeat,
Dr. L.B. Greer