Monday, July 24, 2006

Mixed Signals

I’ve learned that there is a fine line between looking for God’s leading and His will for my life…and relying too heavily on outward signs to confirm or deny it.

During the recent times of God’s silence in my life…I when I looked at the outward “signs” I was very confused. Should I stay with the old company? Should I accept a job with the new company? Or should I make this my time to exit and venture out into new territory? If I factored my feelings into the equation…forget about it. I would have been paralyzed into indecision.

We’ve all heard the expression of God “opening a door” or “closing a door”. Yes…I have experienced both…or at least what I perceived as such. But in this instance…to rely on outward signs would have left me confused, undecided or in a place not of God’s will.

For example with the old company…an offer presented itself. Even though it was seemingly the work I wanted to do…I knew in my heart, soul, mind and spirit that God did not want me to take the job. The new job…was not something I’m jumping up and down excited about…but a good job nonetheless. Leaving altogether…well that’s whole other story.

If I looked at the outward signs…they would have led me to take the job with the old company. A job to my liking…and suited to my experience, skills and abilities. Five weeks after my last day worked…there has been some snafu…and they still haven’t paid me off. So…was that a sign from God to not leave?

The new job…well getting my new hire paperwork processed ran into some hick-ups which delayed me getting paid and my benefits in place. Also…the job I really wanted…well nary a word has come from the folks that interviewed me. Was that a sign from God that I shouldn’t have taken my current job?

I can say unreservedly…the answer is no. Right now today…I’m where God wants me. Why exactly I don’t know. What purpose He has…I don’t know.

If I rely solely on outward signs of open or closed doors…they can be used by Satan to distract me or tempt me into going a direction God would not have me go.

Let me tell you a secret…just between you and me…God doesn’t always put me in a place where things will go easy…or smoothly or comfortably. Sometimes He wants to challenge me, my faith and obedience. At times…those places can be rather uncomfortable. Like being in a place where I don’t want to be, or doing work that is not my cup of tea…or working with challenging situations or people.

Open doors and comfortable places can be very attractive and enticing. But they may be just where God does not want me to be.

Do I have a listening ear towards God’s leading…or am I only looking at outward signs? Do I twist what I see and what I hear to fit into the message and direction I want from God? Or am I genuinely seeking God and His will for my life?

Honestly…if I had taken the job with the old company…it would have been my opportunity so say, “Go pound sand!” to the new company that didn’t give me exactly what I wanted.

But God has worked on my heart…and helped me to know that he wanted me to “Stand firmly and see the deliverance of the Lord.” What that deliverance entails exactly…I don’t know.

But I do know if an opportunity comes up now…I would be leaving because it’s a job I want and it’s the place where God wants me. I wouldn’t be leaving out of hurt, bitterness, anger or frustration. Are those feelings still there? Yes…at times. But God usually keeps in the wine press until I work through those feelings…and He even gives me a caring heart for those whom I found difficult at the beginning.

So open or closed doors may be all well and good…but only when examined in the light of God’s word, after much prayer and with wise counsel from godly people. Sprinkle in a little common sense and a commitment to not rush ahead of God. Most important is a willingness to obey God even when things aren’t quite so comfortable.

Warning…Low Battery!

Is it apparent that your battery is running low? Are you getting that warning message again? That light is not shining quite so bright these days?

Perhaps it’s time you get plugged in. Plug in to the Power Source. Refuel daily…by reading God’s Word. Have an uninterrupted power supply…when you have a good connection going both ways through prayer. Remember…that light is multiplied when it’s combined in fellowship with other lights.

So when you get hit with a surge…or your light begins to flicker…take heed and plug in the Light of the World…Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

The Anointing

While in the midst of trials, tribulation and uncertainty…the hardest part was silence from God.

My own prayers and prayer from others seemed to go unanswered. I desperately desired clear direction from God…yet He had only made one message clear. After that…there was silence.

There was one night…when I was at my absolute end. Yes…I wanted to move in a particular direction. But God had worked on my heart. As a result…more than desiring my will, I was willing to surrender to God’s will and wanted it even though it was different than my own I knew that He would enable and strengthen me for the business at hand.

Yet…on that dark and desperate night…when I cried out to God…there was only silence.

The next day something in me snapped…and I cried out and challenged God with scripture. Specifically where Jesus tell his disciples that he calls them friends and makes known to them his Father’s business.

“I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” –
John 15:15

Not that I advocate or recommend approaching God with anything other than awe and reverence deserving of a Holy, Righteous, Omnipotent, and Omniscient God…but I do believe that it is important to be real with God. He is big enough to handle our problems and knows how we really feel…even when we don’t fully understand it ourselves.

When I cried out to God…I said that I felt like in part this silence from God was being used as spiritual warfare by Satan. That if I was going to be targeted for this treatment…then I would settle for an ordinary life. I would go to church and study my Bible and even try and live rightly through the power of the Holy Spirit. But that if I was going to have to endure this silence…I couldn’t take it anymore. That instead I would settle for an ordinary Christian life.

I was driving in my car after running errands during this conversation with God. And for a brief instance…God pulled back the curtain and gave me a brief glimpse as to how He was using this episode in my life. It was an epiphany…an ah ha moment…that calmed my spirit. It brought tears to my eyes. I can even remember where exactly I was driving when this occurred.

While grateful that God pulled back the veil, if only for a brief moment, I was also frustrated that I had to get to that point before God would respond. I was disappointed in myself that I had demonstrated such a lack of faith. Yet the relief was so apparent…that I physically started to calm down and was able to see things from a better, clearer perspective.

Have you ever had anyone in your life that when they are mad at you…they give you the silent treatment. Well it kind of felt like that. While intellectually and based on my Bible knowledge…I knew that wasn’t true. But it sure felt like it.

God is not like man. He does not hold a grudge or seek to get back at me at me for demonstrating a lack of faith. He uses those times to stretch me and help me to grow deeper and strong in my faith.

Yet I can’t help but think…my lack faith impacted my ability to hear from God and be sensitive to His hand upon me and His leading in my life. I didn’t trust Him without needing to hear something or have a confirmation.

As a result of the “block” I went through a real dry spell in writing. So not only was I not hearing from God…but I wasn’t able to work through my feelings, via writing. Writing had been my avenue to help work through all my feelings…the up’s the down’s…the whole roller coaster effect. And then that was gone…and I felt like I was left alone with only me.

I know that is not the truth. Jesus promised to never leave us, nor forsake us. He has given us the Holy Spirit to dwell within. But I sure wasn’t feeling it.

I’ve been thinking when I demonstrate a lack of trust with God…how does that effect my relationship with God? I know that when someone doesn’t trust me, when they don’t give consideration to what I’ve already proven myself capable of doing…I don’t feel much like having a relationship with them. God is faithful when we are faithless. But at the very least in my lack of faith I shut God out…and I refused to listen or hear Him. I was unable to hear that still small voice within.

It’s a good thing that my God is patient, loving and forgiving…I continually need to draw upon that mercy and grace that God pours out upon me so abundantly.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

True Confessions by Chuck Obremski

This last week when I was faced with an important decision…I longed to be able to speak with my beloved former Pastor, Chuck Obremski.

When I look back at his life, what made Chuck so extraordinary was that the Word of God was active and alive in his life. He regularly fed on God’s word, believed it and put it into practice.

Think of the people whom you admire? They aren’t everyday kind folks that go along with the flow. They aren’t people that live like the rest of the world…doing whatever they want, whenever they want…but show up to church on Sunday morning.

Instead they are people of courage and conviction. They are set apart and wholly devoted to God. Chuck was such a man. Because he had a personal relationship with Jesus Christ…it made a difference in how he lived his life. Jesus shined through him.

Now don’t let this fool you...Chuck loved life and had a great sense of humor…thus sampling of his jokes continue.

May the Lord strengthen and bless you this week as you yield your life to him. May you feast on his Word daily…and grow in the wisdom and knowledge of the Lord.

God bless!
this is an audio post - click to play

Right Response to Tribulation - Dare I be a Daniel?

Daniel 2:1-13

1Now in the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, Nebuchadnezzar had dreams; and his spirit was troubled and his sleep left him. 2Then the king gave orders to call in the magicians, the conjurers, the sorcerers and the Chaldeans to tell the king his dreams. So they came in and stood before the king. 3The king said to them, "I had a dream and my spirit is anxious to understand the dream." 4Then the Chaldeans spoke to the king in Aramaic: "O king, live forever! Tell the dream to your servants, and we will declare the interpretation."

5The king replied to the Chaldeans, "The command from me is firm: if you do not make known to me the dream and its interpretation, you will be torn limb from limb and your houses will be made a rubbish heap. 6"But if you declare the dream and its interpretation, you will receive from me gifts and a reward and great honor; therefore declare to me the dream and its interpretation."

7They answered a second time and said, "Let the king tell the dream to his servants, and we will declare the interpretation." 8The king replied, "I know for certain that you are bargaining for time, inasmuch as you have seen that the command from me is firm, 9that if you do not make the dream known to me, there is only one decree for you. For you have agreed together to speak lying and corrupt words before me until the situation is changed; therefore tell me the dream, that I may know that you can declare to me its interpretation."

10The Chaldeans answered the king and said, "There is not a man on earth who could declare the matter for the king, inasmuch as no great king or ruler has ever asked anything like this of any magician, conjurer or Chaldean. 11"Moreover, the thing which the king demands is difficult, and there is no one else who could declare it to the king except gods, whose dwelling place is not with mortal flesh." 12Because of this the king became indignant and very furious and gave orders to destroy all the wise men of Babylon. 13So the decree went forth that the wise men should be slain; and they looked for Daniel and his friends to kill them.

When I look at King Nebuchadnezzar’s response to his troubling dream…I have to ask myself…how do I respond to trials and tribulation in my own life? What is my reaction when God is trying to get my attention?

When I examine Nebuchadnezzar’s response to trouble to that of Daniel…I find quite a contrast. While I’d like to say my approach is more like that of Daniel’s…there are times I react more like Nebuchadnezzar.

Nebuchadnezzar…the powerful king who had conquered the world…found himself plagued and troubled by a dream. A dream given him…by God himself. This was a wake up call…and indeed it had that effect as he spent sleepless nights asking himself, “What does this dream mean?”

But instead of turning to God and seeking His wisdom and understanding Nebuchadnezzar turned to the wise men of his day…the magicians, conjurers or astrologers, sorcerers and the Chaldeans.

Am I temped to do the same? Is my first instinct to run to people and tell them my troubles and seek their advice or wisdom? Do I run to the phone…instead of going to the thrown of God for answers?

Human wisdom is flawed, limited and at times motivated by a desire for personal gain or influenced by our sinful human experience. Whereas God’s wisdom is holy, righteous and comes from One who is all knowing. Part of the temptation in going to man and seeking advise…is that I don’t have to put much effort into getting advice from humans. Whereas with God…it will require time spent in his word, or in prayer or meditation. I may not get my answer instantaneously…it will require a listening ear and a desire to obey God.

Now there is nothing wrong with seeking advice from godly men and women, who know God and can give counsel from the Word of God. But shouldn’t my first stop be prayer to God? As a Christian…why would I seek council from someone who does not know God or His word?

Today God speaks to us through His completed, inspired, written Word of God. He has also given us the Holy Spirit, who dwells within all believers. If God chooses to speak to us by another means…it will always be in line with and in agreement the Word of God. The Word of God is eternal, perfect, holy and unchanging. When I have the Word of God as my standard, I can be assured that I will not be deceived or lead astray.

King Nebuchadnezzar was powerful…he had conquered the world. He, like Solomon, had everything he could need or want physically. But he lacked the peace of God. Do I have peace of mind and peace with God? Do I try to substitute peace with God by surrounding myself with possessions, fame or personal achievement? Do I feel impervious to trouble…until it touches me personally? Do I have a sensitive heart towards God? Is there some area in which God is trying to get my attention? How will I respond?

Only true believers in Christ can have peace with God. Like Daniel, in prior and upcoming trails, he maintains his peace. Why? Because he knew the Word of God believed it and applied it to his life. Daniel had that peace and it was proven time and time again in how he responded to trials and tribulation.

The king not only sought counsel from flawed, futile human sources…he was reacting out of emotion. While over the top in his threats and basically pretty whacked out…Nebuchadnezzar was still pretty sharp. He recognized his cabinet members were trying to deceive him…that they didn’t have the answers to his dream and were just trying to buy time. Their motivation…to avoid the deadly wrath of King Nebuchadnezzar and maintain their current status in his court.

When I’m facing I tend to overreact? Do I pitch a fit when I don’t get what I want, when I want it? Is that because I’m trying to work on my own power and wisdom instead of humbling myself and turning to God? Do I avoid God because of that sin or disobedience? Is this evidence of my lack of trust in God?

Nebuchadnezzar’s cabinet members recognized that they were in over their heads and that this demand of the king was impossible to answer. Now that didn’t stop them from trying to be manipulative and buy time. But even they as unbelievers knew the king’s request was impossible for man to answer. Their response sets the perfect stage for God to intervene through his faithful servant Daniel.

King Nebuchadnezzar became furious at the wise men’s inability to tell him the dream and its interpretation. As a result…all the wise men in Babylon will pay the price of the king’s fury. That includes Daniel and his friends. We as Christians may suffer along with the unrighteous. We must be mindful that “it rains on the just and the unjust alike”.

What will be my response when I am swept up in unjust actions? Will I respond with faith and confidence…and trust God? I’d better do my homework before the trial is upon me. Trusting God at such a time necessitates that I know God and His character. I can only know God through reading His Word…daily. I don’t know when that disaster, trial or temptation will strike. But if I’m filled with God’s Word…I will have the wisdom to draw upon when I need it.

When I’m prepared through a relationship with God and knowing the Word of God I can be an instrument of God and be used by Him to witness to a world in need. A world in need of a Savior…and peace with God.

What am I doing today to be prepared for such a time as this?

Devotional inspired by Chuck Obremski’s Bible study in the book of Daniel 2:1-13 – "What is this world coming to?".

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Unexpected Peace

For over three months now…my life as I’ve known it has been turned upside down. During this time…I knew that through this situation that God was making a change in my life. I even had some insight into why or what benefits were as a result of these changes.

But through this all…God has been relatively silent. At times it’s felt like my prayers were bouncing off the ceiling. The one and only message I believe God had given me was a verse of scripture…2 Chronicles 20:17.

“You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will give you, O Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the LORD will be with you."

Through it all…the hardest times have been when I’ve asked for clear, specific guidance from God on actions I should or shouldn’t take. I’ve asked, prayed and cried…but there is silence…only silence. So I’d go back to the one scripture verse that God has impressed upon me and asked, “What does this mean? Stand…for how long? What do you mean by deliverance?”

I guess maybe that last question summarizes my confusion or short sightedness. Perhaps my limited vision of “deliverance” meant that while there was a delay in getting the job I wanted or applied for that I would eventually get it. Well…six weeks after my third interview for the job…I’ve still not heard anything…and the job posting is still out there.

Now there are times I’m a little slow on the uptake…okay maybe a lot slow. But even I, at this point, am willing to admit…I don’t think I’ll get the job. In some respects I feel like a faith or prayer failure…that if I just had enough faith then by golly I would have had that job. But now I think it’s more than that.

I think that God’s idea of deliverance and my idea of deliverance are a little different. I was certain that deliverance included a wait time…and then victory. But God, thus far, has revealed a different plan. God’s deliverance for me being a new job…not necessarily one of my own choosing. But it was God’s choice for me at this time. For what exact purpose and plan…I’m not sure I know. Undoubtedly it will include spiritual growth…and that can be painful.

In some of the word faith teaching…they make you feel like if you express any doubt, any doubt at all…then it’s your fault if you don’t get what you want. Or you get cancer…and it’s your fault because you didn’t believe God for health. What they seem to leave out is the equation is that our plans, hopes and dreams may be different that which God has planned for our lives.

Since the company I interviewed with flew me out 3,000 miles to interview me…I took that as a good sign. One person mentioned to me…that if I had been what they wanted when they met me…they would have offered me the job on the spot. Perhaps…but then again, maybe not. After all I had two prior interviews; they had all my job information and resume. The reservations they’ve expressed about giving me the job were already there on paper before they met me in person. Maybe they just didn’t like me…Lord knows I’m not everyone’s cup of tea. After all…I can be a little too straightforward and like to use humor too help make life a little easier to swallow.

In my struggle to try and understand what God was doing and when I would receive deliverance…I did reach out to pursue the option of returning to the line of work I love…loss prevention. I pursued it with the caveat that if it was a job that I shouldn’t take…then I wanted God to block it and shut that door tightly. But God didn’t do that.

Instead I was given a test of my obedience to God. What is the one message that God has given me? Stand and see the deliverance of the Lord. Stand, not pursue, not seek after other things…but stand and see God’s deliverance. Not my hand of deliverance…but God’s.

While understandable from a human standpoint…from an obedience standpoint my taking that job would be disobedience to God because the one clear message he gave me at this time…stand. So on Monday…I will make the call and let the folks know that have offered me the loss prevention job…thank you but no thanks.

God in his mercy has given me some insights and warning signals…while subtle…I would be wise to heed.

While this has been a very stressful time…it has also been a time of blessing. I’m getting to know folks that I’ve only know at a distance…and finding them to be good people…Stephanie, Nancy, Christiana and Nancy W…not to mention the folks from the new company that acquired us. I’m also getting a new appreciation for another side and area of the business.

Like any job…it has it good points and bad points…and you just learn to work through them. I hate backing down from a challenge. Whether it be challenging work…or challenging people…I hate giving up and failing. So…I’m starting to get my fight back. I’m not going to back down…and I’m not going to quit. While I may not be at the top my game while I’m learning a new job and taking on new responsibilities…by golly I’m going to hang in there and make a go of it…and succeed.

And when I encounter difficult situations or people it will be something that requires prayer and God’s help and wisdom.

One of the benefits of this whole change is that I now have more time on my hands. Since September 11, 2001…I have not done much reading…other than Bible study reading. For a long time…I just did not have the ability to concentrate at all. In the mean time…my life was exceptionally busy…with work and issues/concerns with my mom…and a very busy unbalanced schedule.

Well now I’m finding that I have the time to read. While my concentration with all this stress has been not what it should be…nonetheless I’m reading again. It feels like I have been given a gift back. A gift that I had loved greatly and missing profoundly. It took God clearing my schedule to give it back to me.

A number of things made it difficult it to understand what exactly God was doing. I kept trying to “read the signs”…a big mistake. A clear decision was not made or communicated to me…God did not clearly shut the door to the job I wanted. Instead I was told…we’ll be making a decision sometime in July. While it may be a tool in the hands of God that he is using for good...the right thing to do is to communicate and not let people remain in limbo.

Also difficult...has been loosing the day to day relationships with people whom I’m love and care about. In some instances…it appears that a bridge has been burned…not that it can’t be rebuilt…but I’ll need to wait and follow God’s leading.

The brightest, shinning area of the whole fiasco has been the loving prayer support by members of Kindred Community Church, my sister Denise and fellow Christian friends. Without their support…I couldn’t have made it through these difficult times. Dear Ruth who always takes the time to e-mail me a prayer or respond to a desperate cry for help when I’m on the down side of the rollercoaster.

Her focus is always on God and His love and His ability to handle my situation. Confidence that He has a good purpose and plan in this…and that I need to trust God and praise Him daily. My words of thanks…are inadequate. You have no idea how much God used you during those dark and silent days.

I know that Kindred’s Prayer Warriors…are faithful in their prayers because they faithfully follow up each week. Last week I feel as if I was blessed and given a treasure to hold close to my heart. Patti and Bob…check with me each week and see how things are going. Not only with the job…but with my mom Gayle too. Last week Bob shared a scripture with me…that indeed has been a comfort and promise I’m clinging to…from
Psalm 57.

1 Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me,
for in you my soul takes refuge.
I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings
until the disaster has passed.

2 I cry out to God Most High,
to God, who fulfills {his purpose} for me.

Thank you dear Kindred Prayer Warriors for being mature in your faith. Faith that trusts God above all…knowing that He is willing and able to handle all our circumstances in His unending ever faithful love for us. Thanks for not making me feel like a faith failure as I rode a faith roller coaster…and when God has answered my prayer differently than what I had hoped.

So even though I don’t know exactly where God is leading…and how this will all turn out…the limbo state is over. It’s over because I’m choosing to believe God and His word to me to “Stand firm and see the deliverance of the Lord”. It means I won’t be torn between staying where I’m currently at and trying to get back or force my way into a job I love. Instead I will choose to be obedient to the one message that God has given me…stand.

Last year in
Bible Study Fellowship we studied the book of Genesis. Through the study…I felt as if God was preparing me for a change. Especially as I examined the life of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph. God used it to minister to me…and help prepare me. I thank God for that time of preparation…because I have been able to draw from the lives of those who went before me to encourage me in my faith.

Now that this limbo time is over…I can get on with my life. Plans and decision I’ve put off because I was waiting to hear about my job. One of those bright spots…is I’ve registered to attend the
2006 God Blog Con at Biola, August 3rd thru the 5th. Last year I was still new in this blogging thing. But now with a year under my belt…I’m excited to attend this year’s conference. I can hardly wait…and know that I will come away excited and inspired to see God using today’s technology for his purposes…and of course to meet Christian fellow bloggers.

I may get a kitten…an orange kitten. My boy kitties Moss and Nate are 15 years old now…and I’ve learned that I don’t ever want to have just one pet…as they get older I face that prospect. Wouldn’t it be fun to have a kitten again? I wonder how my boys would react. One of these days…I may find out.

Of course there is
Bible Study Fellowship starting up again in the fall…this year the book of Romans. I’m about half way through Chuck Obremski’s study in Romans…as good today as it was back then. This will be my second trip through Romans with BSF…and I look forward to seeing what God will do and teach me this year.

I’d better keep focused so I can complete
Beth Moore’s online Bible study “Believing God”…while on summer break. And I’ve got a lot of miscellaneous incidentals to work on before my fall schedule heats up…like balancing check books, cleaning, organizing giving away and throwing away.

My gratitude to those who have stood with me during this difficult time…I am humbled and grateful for your prayers. Thank you to Jesus…who promised to never leave me, nor forsake me. While not always felt during these turbulent times…I can be certain from Your word…that You indeed are there with me and will remain.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

What I Wouldn’t Give

Dear Chuck,
trials and tribulations abound.

Keenly aware,
how much I miss you.

My desire,
to pick up the phone.

Hear godly council,
from one whom I respect.

To once again,
sit under your teaching.

Knowing God,
will use His willing servant.

Speaking God’s word,
to correct, rebuke or encourage.

No doubt,
an occasional flinch would be seen.

As God’s word,
takes steady aim, piercing my heart.

A tear,
or two would be wiped away.

As I see,
my wobbly faith has fallen short.

Yet my God,
provided rich teaching from his humble servant.

Daily I feast,
to strengthen my heart, mind and soul.

Encouraged to know,
his humble servant finished well.

I know firsthand,
I witnessed the power of God’s word.

My prayer,
that I too will hear.

Jesus words,
“Well done, my faithful servant.”

I miss you my beloved Pastor.

Thanking God for my beloved Pastor, Chuck Obremski and the dedicated servants at Kindred Community Church who carry on the mission of Reaching the World with the Word of God.

If you too are going through difficult times or times of temptation and trial, please click on the link to
Kindred Community Church and listen to the online sermons or e-mail the audio ministry and request some of the teaching albums. Trust me…your faith will be strengthened and challenged. You will grow and your walk will be made steady as you feast on God’s word.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Lasting Impressions

Hurt and angry too.

Caught between;
Inept and unwilling.

Faith and doubt;
Wavering in between.

Incapable or unwilling;
Beyond my understanding.

Surely not what I imagined.

Lacking these days.

Dashed against reality.

No reply…still waiting.

Not even worth it;
A waste of time to ask why.

Forget about it;
Out with the old.

Respect for whom?
Where did it go?

Saturday, July 08, 2006

The Downside of the Mountain

There are times when I just hate having those “spiritual highs”…you know what I mean…those mountaintop experiences. The ones where I firmly know and feel God’s presence in my circumstance. Where I’m confident of God’s love for me and His power to work in my situation.

Now you may be saying “Are you crazy Susan? How can you hate that? Isn’t that what we all hope for and work towards?”

Well I love the experiences in the moment….and even as I reflect back after the fact. But almost always…like clockwork...shortly after that mountaintop comes the downside of the mountain.

Today was a “downside of the mountain” kind of day. The last couple of days were ones in which my faith was encouraged and strengthened. Through God’s Word and through His people…and through the Holy Spirit within me.

One thing I can bank on…is a spiritual attack by the enemy Satan. Mind you, he is a defeated foe…but still wreaking havoc whenever and wherever he can. His favorite instruments are doubt, unbelief, hardness of heart that leads to disobedience, and of course…one of his all time favorites is people.

I could have called today “Weepy Friday” because after my encounter with a rude person…I found it hard to concentrate and keep my focus…and found tears creeping into my eyes as I thought about the experience.

Now I know that it’s not wise to deal with people and situations based on my own wisdom. If I did that I would be yelling back, or talking about what happened with everyone, or be unforgiving. Like my posting from yesterday said…human wisdom is futile. Instead I need to forgive a wrong done to me. I can do that, only with the help of God. Even as Jesus forgave those who crucified him…so too I need to forgive…and I do.

I also know that this person is in need of prayer. A reputation precedes them…and I find I am not the sole recipient of rudeness. I normally take rumors about people with a grain of salt…knowing that there are all sorts of facts that are not conveyed during the course of a rumor. But I do believe in actions. What I don’t know is what motivates those actions or the reason behind them.

I think you can tell a lot about a person in how they treat people who are under them…or in a more lowly state. Almost everyone can treat a person of authority with respect…whether it’s due them or not. Most folks are going to be courteous to the police officer, or their parent, teacher or boss.

Where the rubber meets the road is how people treat people under them. Have you ever watched a parent be demeaning and degrading to their child but when an adult passes by they are polite and nice as can be. Or at a business luncheon…people friendly and jovial with one another. But when the waitress comes along…they are critical, dismissive and rude. They treat them as if they aren’t even fit to shine their shoes.

What I don’t understand is why that behavior is tolerated. Why would you make allowances and just accept that kind behavior as acceptable? I’m not taking about someone having a bad day…or an occasional outburst of frustration. But I’m taking a regular pattern of rudeness.

When you don’t address an issue like that…all you are doing is ensuring that the behavior will continue. Others will be the recipient as well….and they may not be in a position of responding back. Do you think the waitress who is working to keep a roof over her head and feed her children is going to risk responding back to the rude patron?

In the long run…when you don’t address the issue, you are doing a disservice to the person who acts rudely. People don’t like them…and they will talk about them behind their back. They won’t be respected. Sometime people are clueless as to how they are perceived by others. If you give them the benefit of the doubt and gently, with respect and in love address the issue…that may change the situation. But obviously…it’s a situation that needs prayer.

Now back to the downside of the mountain…who benefits when I have wobbly faith. Who wins when I doubt God? When I doubt that God loves and cares for me? When I doubt His ability to work in my situation and bring good from it? When I feel hurt and pull away from God…and don’t read His Word? When instead of walking in peace and confidence, I’m fearful, scared and lacking trust? When I’m unforgiving and grumpy…or just down right ugly? Who exactly win?

Well I can tell you…it sure ain’t me.

It’s Satan. Satan that wins that skirmish. But thank you Lord…he has not, nor will he ever win the war. Because Satan is a defeated foe.

Now I can choose to believe the lies he tells. I can choose to believe the lies he tells me about God, about others and about me.

Or I can be mindful of God’s Word…and remember that Jesus Christ has crushed the serpent’s head. While the body may still be squirming and trashing about…that is short lived. Before long…he will be thrown into the fiery pits of hell for eternity. Yippee Skippy!

And here on earth…for a brief period I may have to endure the attacks of the enemy. But in comparison to my eternity in heaven…it will seem like nothing. When I face those attacks armed with the Sword of the Spirit…I can have victory through God’s power, strength and wisdom. Amen, amen and amen!

Friday, July 07, 2006

In Light of God’s Word

As my state of limbo continues…I’ve had my faith strengthened as I study God’s Word. I’ve started an online Bible Study from Beth Moore called “Believing God”.

When I closely examine myself…I see that yes indeed I believe in God. But where the rubber meets the road…I all too often stop short of believing God. Believing that He is who He says He is and that He can do what He says He can do.

Oh…I know I’m a sinner in need of a Savior. That Jesus sacrifice on the cross paid the penalty for my sins. But I’m not walking and living out that faith with absolute assurance that God is able to handle and bring me victoriously through my personal crisis and that He does indeed care for me.

With each dose of the Word of God…my faith grows…and I decided to get off the pity party band wagon, believe God and get on with the project that God has me working on…an ongoing devotional in the book of Daniel.

As I’ve been listening to Chuck Obremski’s sermon and taking notes…my faith continues to be strengthened by God’s Word. I’ll be finishing the devotional this weekend, Lord willing. But I just had to share some wonderful nuggets from the sermon, “What Is This World Coming To – Part I”:

1) Man’s extremity is God’s opportunity. When I get to the point in life where I realize there is nothing that I can do…this is so far out of my ability to handle it…so far out of my realm to control it. That it is beyond all the human resources I could gather together. I can’t do this! That extreme condition is God’s opportunity to get through to you and me.

2) Human wisdom is futile. Human wisdom is futile when it comes to a divine viewpoint. We need a divine viewpoint if we are going to be able to withstand the pressure in a crisis situation.

3) God always has a man for the crisis. The reason he used Daniel…is because Daniel was prepared. Daniel was prepared because he ingested the Word of God on a daily basis. He had constant fellowship with God. He knew where to turn for the answers. He continually had the Word of God before him…in his heart so he wouldn’t sin against God. God always has a person ready in a time of crisis. The question to ask yourself…is would you be that person that God can use in a time of crisis?

4) Great men are often the most frightened and miserable people that you will ever meet.

5) A crisis…any crisis…provides God people with maximum opportunities to be used to witness to a world that lives in fear. Any crisis will give you an opportunity to be used by God to testify of the greatness of God and that God is in control.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Thank a Soldier - Happy Independence Day!

Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Puddle Duck…or Lake Duck

Today I started the online Bible study of Beth Moore’s “Believing God”.

With Bible Study Fellowship on break for the summer…and since I’m in the middle of much ongoing stress…more than ever I need to keep my focus on God and his Word and his power in my life.

In the first study of
“Believing God”…Beth uses the analogy of duck choosing a puddle verses a lake that’s just over the hill.

As of late…I can say…I’ve been living the puddle duck experience of Christianity. Time for a change…I need to fly over to that lake instead.

If you are interested in participating in this online study…you can click on
LifeWay Bookstore and sign up for this online study.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

My First Breath in Heaven…Random Thoughts

With all the stress going on in my life at the present time…I find my mind is unfocused and my thoughts are numerous. Here area few thoughts from the week that was…

Ah ha…I had an epiphany…I think I see something that God may be teaching me during this time of limbo. The importance or praying for those with whom I work. God is able to enter in and change the situation…and me. Especially if the situation, people or times are difficult…prayer is never more important. I can only attribute the changes or ease in a difficult situation to God’s hand at work. Now if only I can focus my thoughts…and pray more specifically.

I’m so grateful to have the prayer support of my sister Denise…and the dear prayer warriors at Kindred. When my faith is failing me…they pick up the next leg of the race.

Every time I drive down Placentia Avenue…I think of Barbara. There is the house in which she died. The memories assail me from all the years I knew her. A wonderful, loving, motherly influence during those difficult teenage years. I can’t help but think back on all we did Kathy, Julie, Barbara and me. You were not just my friend’s mom…but my friend. I miss you Barbara…and look forward to seeing you once again in heaven. Good, sweet people like you should not have to be struck with such a devastating illness and die at such a young age.

24…Jack Bauer…boy oh boy…he sure does run into adverse, trying and deadly circumstances during the course of the day. And oh the fallout to those around him.

The preciousness of people…sometime I actually get it. Instead of running off to the thing next on my schedule…it’s a good thing to take time and talk. Even when you’re just talking about stuff. Nothing earth shaking or that will change the world…but just stuff. Oh those precious moments…and you never know when you will not have that opportunity again. When that will be taken from you and you won’t see them again this side of eternity. I need to take those moments more often.

Do you know how rare it is to have people really hear you and listen to you during your day? And rarer yet to care about you. So many people are off and running and barely take the time to say hi. Or worse…they give you the courtesy time…but they are not there in the moment, or even listening. Am I listening and caring for others?

There is a difference between involvement or participation…and being an observer.

I love humor…especially self deprecating humor. It helps take the stress out of a situation…makes it easier to acknowledge when I am wrong. Helps me to keep my perspective and not take the simple things, the unimportant in the scheme of things, too seriously.

Reading the Bible daily helps make it easier to obey God’s word…and to keep it in the forefront of my mind.

Reading this book “90 Minutes in Heaven” churns my imagination. Who will be there to greet me when I arrive in heaven? I think I know some of the people who will be there. Dear Pastor Chuck, Hugo and Neil too. Will my dad be there…I don’t know? I know that up until just a few weeks before he died…he didn’t know God or receive Jesus as his Savior. But did he in those last days before he died? I suppose Grandma and me will get along in heaven…instead of rubbing each other the wrong way.

Who won’t be there? Who just doesn’t get it…or won’t listen? Who thinks that they will be entering into heaven based on their own good works? Or who believes that they are not perfect…but better than the guy next door…so of course they will enter in to heaven?

It’s good to know that my last breath on earth…will be my first breath in heaven. My last moments on earth may be filled with pain, sickness or sorrow…but in heaven…that will all change. In contrast those who die without Christ…their last moments on earth may be ones of great fun and happiness…but all that will end with their last breath on earth. Do I care…and what am I doing to help make sure they hear that message of God’s love and provision for their sin?

How can you love someone so dearly…and they won’t even give you a second look? Will there ever come a day in which they will realize what they’ve missed?

It’s going to be a hot and humid summer. Time to buy a new big fan.

This getting up earlier and having to be to work an hour earlier while not top on my list forces me to get to bed earlier. I’m walking while it’s still cool early in the morning. But in the fall and winter…it will be dark during my walk time. Perhaps I need to invest in a good, small flashlight.

More than ever I understand why I love loss prevention…and can hardly wait until I get back to where I belong.

Pete…thanks for the Patriot’s picture. It’s filled with so many memories. Memories of the weeks and months proceeding and following that game. September 11th, the RIF and parting of too many people that had built our business…and of course Terry leaving our company. The picture reminds me of my “Boston Boys”…and how your enthusiasm turned me in to a Patriot’s fan. One day…I really must attend a game. But it must…absolutely must be a “snow game” at Gillette Stadium.

Speaking of Boston…one day I would love to attend a concert for the Boston Pop’s Orchestra. How about a nice trip in the fall to New England to see the trees turn color? Ahhh….now that is a trip I would like.

When I’m going through difficult times…I look more longingly toward heaven…and leaving behind the cares and concerns of this world.

The current job I’m in…I feel like a puzzle piece being shoved into the wrong area of the puzzle. Wrong size, wrong area, wrong way…and it hurts. I can hardly wait until God moves me to the correct area of the puzzle.

I can hardly wait until September 11th…when Bible Study Fellowship starts up again. I do miss it so. In the fall we study Romans.

Remembering Rudy Through the Years