Thursday, December 27, 2007

No Room


It wasn’t a fiery sermon preached from the pulpit, but instead a verse from the precious Christmas hymn, "Away in a Manger". The words stopped in my throat…and I could only whisper them…mouth the words as tears filled my eyes.

“Away in a manger, no crib for a bed”

Those words brought me up short and I realized I had gotten it all wrong. It was Christmas and I hadn’t made room for Jesus.

Oh there was time to decorate and attend Christmas festivities. I made time to make a list and check it twice…and shop for just the right gifts. I slipped in some Christmas concerts and even a party on the sparkling waters of Newport Beach.

But I didn’t make time for my Savior.

I enjoyed Christmas lights…but didn’t delight in the Light of the world.

Oh I attended church and Bible study and even prayed. But I didn’t seek special time to spend with Jesus…to thank Him for what He has done for me. In all the hustle and bustle of the season…I didn’t share the Good News of Gospel with someone who is overwhelmed or hurting or alone for the first time.

I didn’t spend time reading the story of Jesus’ most miraculous birth as God became man. He who is fully God and fully man…this One who was born to die. Willing to submit Himself unto the Father’s plan…in order to redeem me, buy me back and save me from my sin.

Everything I have…everything I am comes from Him. And I didn’t give Him the one thing I can offer…my time.

When I look at the gifts I received and the things I most treasure from this Christmas…it was time spent with friends…just chatting. Sometimes about important things…more often than not…it was just about stuff. Nothing earth shaking…but just time spent caring for one another.

If that’s what I enjoyed the most…why would I think my Lord and Savior wouldn’t love that too?

What I missed the most…was spending time with friends...talking and catching up…or getting away for a while from the hustle and bustle and demands that never end. Focusing on another…listening and carrying their burdens for a while.

Jesus gave His life so that I might live…He bore the penalty for my sins upon His body. He gave His all…and didn’t even give Him my time.

My foolish investment of time and energy made what is so precious…devoid of real meaning. If only I had focused on Christ…how might the rest of time and relationships have been during this season? Christ centered, peaceful, joyful, walking in love, mindful of the real reason behind the celebration. Walking in manner worthy of my high calling…and aiming to please my Savior…to bring Him joy.

When I really love someone…don’t I find great joy and happiness in pleasing them and making them happy? Won’t it be more so when I please Jesus?

Oh Jesus…I’m sorry I made no room for You this Christmas. Jesus I ask You, please don’t let me do this again…to walk so foolishly. May I be ever mindful of the treasure You are…and hold onto You and value You…and never let You go.


Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Monday, December 17, 2007

Lazy Faith


On today’s faith venture in Believing God…I’m seeing a clear picture that I have lazy faith.
I thank God that He trusts me enough to reveal these things…that means He trusts me to want to change them. Now I fully admit I can’t change it on my own. But even knowing that is good…because before I thought it was a goal achieved through my own effort and self will. Now I know that I am weak and unable to do anything on my own…must less exercise faith.

I can see in the past that God, in His mercy, answered prayers of mine when I had little or no faith. He didn’t do it because I exercised great faith and trusted in Him. He did it out of mercy and because He knew I was a new Christian or young in my faith.

But I grew lazy…not wanting to strive or to pray without ceasing…but still get God to answer my prayers. I could have my proverbial cake and eat it too. When I do that…I’m acting worse then an unbeliever.

But God is not satisfied in leaving me young and immature in my faith. He wants me to grow…in faith and in my knowledge of Him. He wants me to participate. To believe Him…to keep believing…even when my circumstances would say otherwise.

I think I have been more satisfied with justifying my unbelief and lack of faith then in believing God. I’ve been more content with complaining about what I don’t have then to thank God for what I do have. Perturbed that I have to keep praying to God instead of falling down on my knees in humble adoration and gratitude that I can even come before the throne. More likely to doubt God then to know with confidence that He is more than able to accomplish what concerns me today.

God tells us in His word that we are to ask, seek and knock.

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” – Matthew 6:7-8

This is an ongoing and continuous command…I am to keep asking, keep seeking and keep knocking. I can keep doing that because I know with confidence that my God is able to answer my prayers and He is a good God who cares for me. When I ask, seek and knock…I must be willing to submit to His will.

Where ever did I get the notion that faith should be easy? For Pete’s sakes I’m in a spiritual battle. What enemy has ever made their opponent’s victory easy? Anything good is worth fighting for.

Shouldn’t I remember most importantly that God is prize? Yes…I can come to Him in prayer…present my requests in faith, with thanksgiving and know that He is able to handle my every need or concern with ease. But the real prize…the thing that is most important…is not that He will answer my prayers…but that He desires to have a relationship with me. God Almighty…Creator of heaven and earth…Father, Son and Holy Spirit…wants to know me.

Dear Father…I have so failed in my faith. I have missed the mark and did not comprehend that You are the prize. Jesus…help me to grow strong in my faith…by exercising my faith muscles with daily and continuous workouts. May I be mindful I am in a spiritual battle…and strive for victory no matter what the cost. I come to You in Christ alone. Amen!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Old Woman Sight Walking Faith is Dead


Not sure how much of an inkling I had at some of the ugly stuff that would be revealed as I delve into my faith…in my study of Believing God.

I never wanted to do therapy…because I figure I’ve already lived the bad stuff…I don’t want to waste even one more moment of my life dwelling on it. But I’m starting to see the importance of examining the outworking of my faith compared to what God says it should be…and what pleases Him.

Boy oh boy…am I coming up short! And folks…it ain’t pretty. As the days and weeks go by in this study…I hope to better understand why my faith is so weak. But right now all I’m seeing is my failure of faith.

God makes it very clear in His word…that He desires for us to have faith and to believe Him. He even rewards our faith. Reading Hebrews 11….the Hall of Faith…I am in awe of what these people endured and how they maintained their focus on God and His promises. They didn’t waver with doubt and unbelief…nor were they concerned on how God would accomplish what He had promised. Instead they stood steadfast and resolute in believing their God.

Faith, trust and believing God is a way to glorify and honor Him…it pleases Him. Can you imagine a child who is fearful and concerned about how her parent will provide and take care of her? That surely wouldn’t speak too well of that parent now would it? But in this instance…my lack of faith and trust…doesn’t speak well of me.

I find it kind of amazing that God delights and rewards those who believe and trust Him in faith. But when I look at a parent…don’t they delight in doing good things for their child? Don’t they take great pleasure in bringing happiness and joy to their child? How much more so God?

When I look at Abraham…I marvel at his great faith. I ask myself…if God called me to sacrifice my only child….would I obey? If I obeyed…would I be quick to do so and not question God?

Am I going to believe God…and who He says He is? Trust what He says He will do? Or am I going to believe my circumstances…and only what I can see? I’m quite adept at sight walking faith. But God wants me to walk by faith…and I’ve failed that test miserably.

It’s easy to believe what’s in front of me and what I can see. It requires effort, faith and work to know God’s word…and His character as revealed in the Bible. In a different context the Bible tells me that I am to deny myself, pick up my cross and follow Jesus. Since doubt and unbelief is so ingrained in me…wouldn’t I be denying myself and following Jesus when I choose to believe Him by faith? So often…I think of denying myself in terms of denying certain pleasures…but perhaps that command encompasses even more than that.

As I look at my faith…and my poor track record…I realize that I’m not able to achieve this on my own…that God will have to give me the faith to believe Him. The Holy Spirit is going to be doing double duty…bringing to mind the scriptures I’ve studied…to help keep me walking by faith.

Sight walking faith has bigger consequences than just loosing out on blessings in this world. It also affects my prayer life. When I doubt my God…do I bring everything to Him by prayer and petition…and present my request to Him? Am I faithful to bring unbelieving friends and family before the throne of God and beseech Him for mercy and for their salvation? How many people are praying for them…for their hurts and needs? How many cry out to God for their salvation? Shouldn’t my voice be lifted up to God in heaven…that He would save their souls? What will I be feeling in heaven when the books are closed and people that I could have prayed for aren’t there?

Am I willing to deny myself…my doubt and unbelief…and trust God in faith? Am I willing to turn away from sight walking faith…and walk by faith through the power of the Holy Spirit within me?

Oh Lord…please help me. You know how I have failed, time and time again. You are going to have to give me the faith…because I am frail and weak in my faith…and unable to believe on my own. Help me to believe You and trust You. Help me to walk by faith. Thank you Jesus…that I am a new creation in You.

To quote Clarence Thomas’ grandfather Meyer Anderson, “Old Man Can’t is dead, I know, I buried him myself.”

Old Woman Sight Walking Faith is dead…I know because she was crucified with Christ. She was born again…and is now called Walking by Faith.

God…would you consider adding a verse Hebrews 11? Something like this, “By faith Susan…”


Friday, December 14, 2007

The Message


Last week I attended a Christmas dinner at church and heard a message from author, Karen Kingsbury. I thought I was going to hear a message that would help me feel the Christmas spirit…and keep my eyes focused on Jesus as so many things are vying for my attention during this busy season.

But I couldn’t have been more wrong. The message was more personal and specific to me and my week and the emotions that followed.

While I was sitting in church with friends and family, partaking of beautiful music and listening to a talented woman of God…my heart and mind were elsewhere.

Earlier in the week I had attend a Christmas function. In the course of the evening I found that my feelings were hurt and I felt disrespected. I hoped and prayed that it was not intentional…but even that thought didn’t take the sting out the wound.

I found myself preoccupied over the next couple of days. But when Karen started on her three point message on how make sure the Christmas seasons is a good one…I knew God was speaking to me. I think I stopped listening after her first point…because I had my assignment from God.

Karen’s first point was that you need to mend broken relationships. I know that’s true….and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve failed do that and can look back and see the emotional carnage that resulted when failed to forgive.

I had my marching orders to mend a relationship…but asked God…what should I do? Should I call or write…and what should I say? What if he gets mad or thinks I’m being a “you know what” or just an overly emotional girl?

“Susan…you’re not responsible for his response. I’ve called you to reach out and mend the relationship. You remember the scripture don’t you…the one where I tell you that if you have something against a brother that you are to leave and go and be reconciled. Susan…you can’t afford to wallow in hurt which will lead to unforgiveness…that’s a sin. You need to forgive…but first go and share what you are feeling. Give this man the opportunity to apologize and make things right. If it was you…would want someone to give you an opportunity to apologize? Think about it…what kind of a witness is bitterness and anger to unbelievers in your life? If you are going to act like that…how are you any different then them?”

Okay God I will…but please give the words to say.

When I got home from church…I sat down to type an email. Yeah…I know it’s probably the chicken way out…but I express myself better in writing. Since it had occurred a few days earlier…I wasn’t acting in anger…and I could take the time to not only express what I was feeling but explain why. I hope…I think it was done in love. Kind and caring…albeit direct. It was with fear and trembling that I hit the send button…and then I waited.

While I hoped for a response right away…either via email or phone call…I wasn’t surprised that it didn’t come. When tempted to be nervous because of a lack of response…I re-read the email…and honestly felt it was fair and balanced.

God then reminded me…He called me to obey Him and reach out to mend a relationship. I was not responsible for the person’s response back.

I’m grateful to God that He did use that letter to bring attention to a hurt…and that it was responded to with kindness and caring. When next we met face to face…an apology was forthcoming. I was so thankful and relieved. I was kind of scared not knowing how my email would be taken. But I also had a peace from God…knowing that I had done what He called me to do.

I pray that I will have an ear to hear God when He speaks…and the will to obey Him. Thank You Lord for continuing to grow me.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Truth Project


As a Christian, do you ever find yourself at loss for words or uncertain on how to answer questions about your faith? Does it keep you from sharing your faith and the Gospel message because you fear being asked questions that you don’t know how to answer? You just don’t want to look stupid. Do you ever get into a debate that gets a little heated…and you back down because it’s getting into territory that you are unfamiliar with?

There is an excellent tool that is put out by Focus on the Family that will help equip you in your Christian faith. It’s called the Truth Project. We at Kindred Community Church are in the process of going through this teaching series in our small groups.

It’s helping us to think Biblically and contrast it to how the world thinks…in different areas. The topics include: Veritology, Philosophy & Ethics, Anthropology, Theology, Science, History, Sociology, Unio Mystica, The State, The American Experiment, Labor, and Community & Involvement.

Do you have a child heading off to high school or college…and you’ve tired to root and ground them in the word of God…but you are concerned what havoc a very secular and godless education will do to their faith? You’ve seen it in your friend’s children…they were raised in the church all their life. They come home at Christmas during their freshman year...and are saying Christianity may be alright for you…but I don’t believe it anymore…I’ve grown past that now. Wouldn’t you like to inoculate them?

How about equipping them to better understand their own faith…and see in a very straightforward manner the attacks their faith will take. Attacks that are either veiled and subtle or blatant and unapologetic.

To see how your church or Bible study group can go through this series go to The Truth Project.

Isn’t about time you felt knowledgeable about your faith so that you step out in faith and share the Good News of the Gospel? Or have that ongoing debate with the unbeliever at work…knowing and trusting that God will bring to fruition the seeds that are being planted? Wouldn’t you like to have peek at the enemy’s game plan? Do you ever wonder how that brother-in-law of your can be so deceived and blinded to the truth of God and the word of God? Or how about dad…you’ve been praying for him for years to come to a saving faith in Jesus Christ. Wouldn’t you like to better know what lies the enemy is using so you can use the word of God strategically?

It’s time to get equipped…The Truth Project.


Not Something I’m Proud Of


As a Christian…I know that God hates pride and just as Jesus was humble and submitted Himself to God the Father…He too desires the same from me.

If you were to follow me around…I’m not sure that pride is one of the first faults you would identify…but make no mistake it’s there.

Tonight as we continued in Revelation 12…we studied about the battle between God and His angles and Satan. We went back to Isaiah 14, where Satan first rose up to usurp God and put himself upon the throne.

13 You said in your heart,
"I will ascend to heaven;
I will raise my throne
above the stars of God;
I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly,
on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain.

14 I will ascend above the tops of the clouds;
I will make myself like the Most High."

Make no mistake…God does not share His throne. If I’m trying to put myself on the throne…I’m trying to push God off.

Before God had created the earth and placed the crown of His creation, Adam and Eve, in the Garden of Eden…Satan, a created, being thought too highly of himself.. He became prideful of his beauty, wisdom and splendor…all of which God had given him. Instead of thanking God for those gifts and seeking to please God and bring Him glory through humble submission and use of them, he instead sought to raise himself up and put himself on God’s throne.

Satan wanted God’s throne…but instead he was thrown out of heaven and banished to the earth. Ever since his chief aim has been to bring to ruin the apple of God’s eye…man. He stands before God and is the accuser of the brethren. If he can’t keep us from heaven…he seeks to make our life miserable so that we will curse and deny God. He wants to ruin our testimony and render us useless to God…as we stand before Him with our shame and failures ever before us. But thankfully we have a huge God…who is able to forgive, redeem, and cleanse us from our sins. Thankfully He is also able to use even our failures for good and for His glory and furtherance of His kingdom.

While pondering Satan and what led to his downfall…it struck me that while many of his attacks are quite obvious…his most effective tool may be to lure us to follow his path to destruction…pride. It can be subtle…who doesn’t want to take pride in their work or doing a good job? Come on…what’s wrong with that? But where does that lead? Am I mindful that God gave me that job and the gifts to perform the job well? Or am I starting to believe that it's all about me? Am I willing to obey and submit to God’s will even when it differs from my plan? Or will I scheme and manipulate to get my way? Will I seek to put others down so I can raise myself up? Am I boastful and proud? Do I seek to promote myself…or do I encourage and help others?

As one who suffered the pain of rejection early in life…and falling short in oh so many ways…there will always be a scar and pain and doubt that I will ever be good enough. Because of that I am particularly vulnerable to seeking the praise of man. Because there was pain and hurt…trusting God may require a willful act and will likely not come naturally. It will require effort to not trust my feelings…to instead believe and follow God and the truth of His word. It will require faith and trust in God…even when I may not see the fruits of that trust that God is indeed a good God.

Pride…it’s ever so tempting…but trust, obedience and submission is the key. Will I put myself first…or God first? One has eternal rewards…and the other ends in destruction.

Oh Lord…help to me not go down the path of Satan. May I be mindful that all that I have and all that I am comes from You. May I humbly obey and submit myself, my plans and my future to You and Your glory. Amen!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Heaven to Earth


“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9


The thing I love most about this picture is the reminder...that Jesus came here to earth.

God incarnate lay His glory aside, so that He might take my sin upon Himself, pay the penalty for my sins, so that I might be forgiven. Because He lived a sinless perfect live, His righteousness was credited to my account. My sin debt has been paid in full. I have been saved, by grace, through faith...Praise God!



Proclaim Your Love

Monday, December 10, 2007

Trustworthy Guide

Not too long ago I found myself shifting uncomfortably in my seat as a new class member in my Bible Study Fellowship group spoke. She shared that she found the lessons so challenging that she was able to answer them only when she started her lesson by praying. Praying for God to give her wisdom and guide her as she studied the passage and answered the questions.

Since I’ve been in BSF for so many years…the answers usually come easy…perhaps too easy. As a result I may fail to begin my lesson in prayer…and my first thought is not always…let me pray to God for wisdom in answering this question.

When my new classmate said that she has to begin her lesson in prayer…I felt the conviction of the Holy Spirit…a nudge…a reminder. I should not be presumptuous, but instead come humbly before the Lord and ask for His guidance, wisdom and discernment.

I can tell I’m off track…when I’m completing my lesson and I come to a question that is difficult and I get frustrated. Instead of excited that God is going to show me something new…I start stressing. The frustration factor is multiplied when I’m doing my lesson late in the week, rather than daily.

Tonight I had a tough question…what does Matthew 11:11 mean?

“I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” – Matthew 11:11

And I had no idea what the answer was. At first…I thought I’d go on and come back and complete it later. Soon I had to leave for church. I chatted with folks at the prayer meeting to get their consensus. I listened…but it still didn’t connect.

When I got home…a visit to Bible Gateway afforded me the opportunity to read the passage in several different versions. The snag with Bible Study Fellowship is that you can’t use commentaries to help you answer your question. You must only use the Bible. You can also look up definitions in the dictionary…but that’s it. After reading the passages…I asked God for wisdom and stepped away from the computer.

As I did so…God brought to mind the passage in Matthew 20:26 which states that if we are to be great in God’s kingdom…we are to be a servant of all. That seemed to answer most of the question…but I was still uncertain what God meant when he said we would be “great”. After all how could we greater than John the Baptist?

Will I was off to my second tool…Webster’s online dictionary to look up the word “great”. There were several definitions that seemed to fit: remarkable in magnitude, degree, or effectiveness”, “superior in character or quality”, or “used as a generalized term of approval”.

While not 100% sure of my answer...I believe that Matthew 11:11 tells us that if we serve others, consider others more valuable than ourselves and serve them…then we will be considered great in God’s kingdom. Effective in carrying out God’s work and that work will be approved by God.

Jesus himself came to serve others. “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." – Mark 10:45

If Jesus…the Son of God served…how much more should I serve others?

I look forward to hearing the other woman think this passage means, as well as our leader Terri…and of course the lesson’s notes.

Even if my answer varies…I still learned a valuable lesson that when I seek to know God and His word, I need to go to Him in prayer first. For He will be faithful to answer that prayer.


Friday, December 07, 2007

Rudy…Guilty as Charged?


AHA, the evidence is over whelming against this criminal your honor. It is obvious he is guilty, he has been caught red-pawed. I suggest you throw the catnip at him.

But your honor, the video has also proven that this guilty party had an accomplice. Your honor, if you'll notice the camera followed the progression of this crime thereby suggesting that the camera operator was highly involved in aiding, abetting, and allowing this crime to take place. Rather than doing anything at all to stop this crime from taking place, the camera operator allowed it to progress. It is my contention that the camera operator was videoing this crime as a trophy, and to keep a record of this "Christmas decoration destroying gangs" exploits. Your honor, I suggest you also throw the catnip at the accomplice.

I rest my case.

The Honorable Michael Paddison presiding...making his first guest appearance on Susan's Blog


Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Mystery Solved!



Each night when I come home…I find an assortment of ornaments scattered too and fro. Make no mistake…I had a prime suspect in mind. But tonight….I have proof positive that little Rudy is having a holly jolly Christmas while I’m away a work.




One I’ve Never Met



How is it,
That I can miss a man I’ve never met?

How is it,
That I still dream of a lifetime spent with one I’ve never known?


How is it,
That I desire to feel the warmth of an embrace that has never come?


How is it,
That I long to hold the hand of him that I’ve never held?


How is it,
That I miss the kiss from lips that I’ve never touched?


How is it,
That I can still hope that one day I may know him?


by Susan Bunts

December 3, 2007

Friday, November 30, 2007

With All the Many Miracles


God gave the bold command
To cross the Jordan and take the land
Not to worry about the giants they would face
But when the spies returned
To tell the others what they had learned
They said, “For us to win, there’s just no way.”


Still two of them trusted God,
Caleb and Joshua
They said, “Children, don’t believe what you have heard.
We know we’re out manned by far,
They’re much bigger than we are.
But let’s not forget just Who it is we serve.”


With all the many miracles
Why don’t you think it’s possible?
With all the many things we’ve seen
Why do you think it’s just a dream?
With all the things He’s done for us
Don’t you think it’s time we trust?
Remember what is possible
With all the many miracles.


Like when we were about to die,
Manna fell from the sky.
Then water came from a dry old dusty rock.
And back when Pharaoh was closing in,
God closed the sea again,
But not before we all had safely crossed.


So here you are my friend,
You face a battle you cannot win
You tell yourself, “There just no need to try”
Consider how good God’s been,
He’s been faithful time and again,
You must believe and here’s the reason why.


With all the many miracles
Why don’t you think it’s possible?
With all the many things we’ve seen
Why do you think it’s just a dream?
With all the things He’s done for us
Don’t you think it’s time we trust?
Remember what is possible
With all the many miracles.


With all the things He’s done for us
Don’t you think it’s time we trust?
Remember what is possible
With all the many miracles.


By Rodney Griffin, Greater Vision


Anybody in need of a miracle today? Anybody being challenged to keep the faith in the midst of difficult circumstances and dark days? I for one raise my hand high and say, “Yes Jesus, I believe help me with my unbelief. Please God bless me.”

Terry and David…I’m dedicating this song to both of you. You both share a love for the music of Greater Vision. When I listen to their music…my faith is built up. It’s so Biblically based and taken straight from scripture. I pray that the Lord touches your feelings and reminds you that He loves you and is at work in your circumstances. May we be ever mindful that He is faithful. Love you two…and stay strong in the Lord!.

The above song is by the Gospel trio Greater Vision…my favorite Gospel group. I first heard them when listening to Charles Stanley’s In Touch program. Greater Vision is one of their frequent guests. Usually I’ll watch the program on Saturday evening or Sunday morning before church.

Rodney Griffin is their songwriter. He writes most of their music…and it is the best. Gerald Wolfe and Jason Waldrop join Rodney to make up this wonderful Gospel trio. It is my prayer that one day…I will get to see them sing in person.

“With All the Many Miracles” is the song that has most touched me both when I first heard and even today…when I need an infusion of faith and courage to trust God even before I see His work in my circumstances…I’ll listen to this song.

When I first heard “With All the Many Miracles”…it was around the time our Bible Study Kindred Fellowship was soon to become a church, Kindred Community Church. It was a time of uncertainty. We knew God was leading and at work…but we didn’t know how He was going to work things out.

But our God is faithful…and likes to do things in a big way. He faithfully lead our church and provided what we needed according to His prefect plan and timing. Praise Him. So when my beloved Pastor Chuck Obremski was battling cancer and eventually called home to be with his Lord, this song kept me focused on God and His ability to act and move in our situation. When we were without a Pastor for two years…this song reminded me that God was at work…and that we would one day see the outworking of His plan. Which we saw when He called Pastor Philip De Courcy to the pulpit at Kindred.

Today…when I see my life, not as I had imagined or hope, I once again listen to this song…to bring me hope and knowledge that He is faithful and will provide what is needed according to His plan and in His perfect timing.

God’s timing is usually different than mine. But it is in retrospect that I see just how right His timing and plan was. So Jesus…tonight…I put my trust and hope in You to work in my life. I’ve cried out to you so many times…at this point I’m nagging. But like the woman who came to Jesus and begged for her daughter’s deliverance…I too will persist until Jesus tells me, “Susan, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire.”

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Fleshly Wisdom


You know…there are times I think God must just be weary of dealing with me. Positively weary! Honestly…sometimes I’m weary of being dealt with. Goodness knows I need it. It seems like when I actually “get it” and understand what God wants…that lasts for about 20 seconds…and then I’m back to being a bonehead again.

As I look at my actions and words over the past few days…I wonder…do I live my life as if I have a relationship with the living God who loves me and sent His Son to die for me? Specifically in the area of going to God with questions and asking for help when I desire wisdom and discernment.

I’m afraid to admit it…but I find I like to get my answers from someone who has flesh on…who I can see face to face.

I acknowledge that when I’m asking a person…something that only God knows the answer to…I’m getting answers and feedback that is lacking. Sometimes woefully lacking. Also I can manipulate the situation based on what information I share. That manipulation may not even be intentional…just a predisposition or prejudice to view my situation in a certain manner.

But goodness knows I can’t do that with God.

So today…when I found myself asking a friend for advice…I felt the conviction of the Holy Spirit. God saying to me, “Susan, why are you going to her for advice? Why aren’t you coming to Me? Asking Me for discernment and wisdom and help in your situation?”

Why do I first tend to go to humans for wisdom, instead of God?

When I go to God…I need to quite my spirit…and put some thought into what I’m asking or want. As I draw close to God…I see that perhaps that which I desire is not of His will…and then I’m faced with the decision to surrender or not? Am I ready and willing to state, “Thy will be done”?

God knows the truth…He knows the situation intimately…and people involved. I can’t fool Him or spin my story in a way that is favorable to me. And I may not get an answer right away. There may be a delay…and it may appear as if God is not going to answer. That requires that I wait and trust Him and His timing and His will and His wisdom.

Thus…the human answer seems easier and more desirable in the short run. The problem is…it’s based on limited finite human knowledge. When I have my ear tuned to man’s wisdom…I usually make poor decisions. Especially when I’m listening to my own voice unchecked by the word of God.

So Jesus…I bring before you my situation…my dilemma. I confess…I don’t know what to do…I don’t know what’s going on…both in me and others? I don’t know what step to take next…or not to take? I don’t know what to say or do. I don’t know if I should shut up and let go and let God? Or if I should persevere…and demonstrate great faith? I don’t know. But Jesus…You know. You are omniscient…You know each of us intimately. You planned our lives from before the foundation of the world. You know the good plan that You have for me. You know that which is according to Your perfect will. So Jesus…I ask You to give me wisdom. Help me to have an ear to hear You. To follow Your guidance and direction. Help me to surrender and obey. Help me to trust You and be patient…to believe despite what’s in front of me. Help me to walk in love…and think of the other person’s good before I think of myself. When I’m frustrated and want to give up…help me instead to bring the situation and person before Your throne in prayer. Jesus…I’m sorry for not trusting You fully and leaning on my own understanding and seeking my will before Yours. Help me to love others more than I love myself or want to get my way. Thank You for forgiving me of all my sins…and washing me in the precious blood of the Lamb. Help me to make decisions and live my life in such a manner that I bring You glory. I come to You in Jesus name…Amen!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Only Believe


If the words had been audible…God’s message to me couldn’t have been clearer. “Susan, only believe!”

As I studied this week’s Bible Study Fellowship lesson I saw example after example of people who demonstrated great faith. From the men who brought their paralytic friend to Jesus so that he might be healed. To the woman who had an issue of blood for 12 years. Jairus had mission to have Jesus do the unthinkable…bring his dead daughter back to life. Even the blind men came to Jesus believing that He was able to restore their sight. In their joy and excitement over the miracle that Jesus had just performed…they went out and did the very thing Jesus commanded them not to do…they blabbed about what the Messiah had done to everyone they encountered.

Do I have great faith…the kind of faith that motivates God to answer my prayers? Faith to believe that He is able to do that which is impossible with man? Do I have the kind of faith…that brings Him glory because it shines forth…even before it’s answered? Do I have such joy and excitement that I can not be contained and must share the good news of Jesus Christ with everyone I encounter?

The example that has always touched me the most personal…is the woman with an issue of blood. Think of it…in the Jewish society…this woman was considered unclean. She would not have been able to worship at the temple. Anyone who came into contact with her would have been considered unclean so she would have been shunned, she couldn’t even have normal relations with her husband. On top of the social aspect…this condition must have left run down to the point of exhaustion. There were no iron pills to fix anemia. She couldn’t take an Advil to help alleviate any pain…her condition only got worse and worse…and now she was broke and bleeding still.

Jesus was her last ditch effort. Perhaps she had heard the stories of ones before her…the lepers that were cleansed, the sick that were healed by His touch or by His word, the blind who were made to see. There were even whispers of a storm on the Galilean Sea that stopped in an instant as Jesus said the words, “Be still”. Surely this man must be God.

She believed…she knew that all she needed to do is reach out her hand. Even if she just touched the hem of His garment…just that alone would be enough to heal her, end her suffering and misery….restore her life as it once was. But once you’ve been touched by the Savior’s healing touch…your life will never be the same.

These people had faith. A faith that was unstoppable. A faith that would not be discouraged, pushed down or ignored. A faith that tuned out the naysayers and loud voices of doubt and unbelief. A faith where their eyes were focused on Jesus. A faith that knew the scriptures about what God had done for those whom He called His own.

Faith is one of the key areas that I struggle with. It’s never been an issue of whether God is able to do that which I’m praying about…but will He? That’s where the rubber meets the road…and where I’ve gone off track.

Something about “have faith”…just seems like you either have it or you don’t. And when you don’t…where do you get that infusion of faith and how long with it last?

But “Only Believe”…now that is something that requires me to have a living active faith. Something that I’m choosing to participate in. I’m choosing to believe God.

Faith is the avenue by which God chooses to answer our prayers. When Jesus is my aim and focus…trials and tribulations fade to the background. I know that He is the invincible and mighty God…who is more than able to accomplish what concerns me today.

Will I choose this day to “walk by faith”? Or will I choose to have “sight walking faith”?

God…Your word tells us that You give us the measure of faith to believe. So Jesus…I’m asking for trial and tribulation breaking faith. I’m asking for Jesus vision faith. I’m asking for faith that will bring You glory. I’m asking for faith that breaks down walls and perseveres until prayers are answered. I’m asking for unwavering faith…that never trembles or doubts when confronted with the impossible.

Jesus…I’m asking for the faith so that I may, “Only Believe”. Amen!


Saturday, November 24, 2007

Spirit of Christmas


Michael was right…well mostly.

I think yesterday was my first real Thanksgiving dinner since before my step-dad Joe died in 2001. In the year or two preceding his death…Thanksgiving and Christmas were much different than early years. The large family gathering had dwindled greatly. It was either Thanksgiving or Christmas that found Joe, Gayle and me in the car looking for a restaurant to dine at. While it’s good to be with family and loved ones…there’s just something about a sandwich at a restaurant that doesn’t evoke the feelings as a traditional Thanksgiving dinner at home.

After Joe died…the next Thanksgiving was spent with my mom Gayle…who about seven months later would be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. With the foresight of hindsight…I finally understood why she was acting so odd. What seemed unusual then…would soon become our reality over the next six years and continuing to this day.

So when the invitation came to join the Morgan family for Thanksgiving I was most grateful. I so looked forward to a regular Thanksgiving. My sister Denise and I stopped by to see Gayle in the morning before heading off our separate ways. In some respects I did feel bad that I didn’t spend the day with Gayle. In recent years…we have had a “new kind of Thanksgiving” which included me spending the afternoon with her…watching a Christmas movie and putting up her Christmas decorations. But this year…I was eager for a normal Thanksgiving Day.

This was my first time over at the Morgan’s. As I drove down the tree lined street…I knew I would fall in love with the house. A house with old wooden floors and antiques…and pictures of ancestors hanging on the walls. Let’s just say…I could spend the afternoon looking about at all the treasures. From hearing stories of the tree planted in the backyard almost 50 years when Daniel was 2 years old…to the story of great grandfather who lived during the Civil War…I was enchanted as I beheld his picture and heard the wind blowing the leaves of the tree planted so long ago.

A meal of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce was topped off by a slice of yummy pumpkin pie. An afternoon walk seemed just right as I looked up at the trees that lined the street and was regaled with stories of what it was like to grow up in the neighborhood.

It’s odd because just a couple of miles away…I spent my sixth grade year…sharing an apartment with my mom. She was in nursing schooling following the death of my dad. I was what would be termed a “latch key kid”. It made me wonder…did we ever pass one another at the store or meet each other all those years ago?

Just as I was thinking I was being obnoxious for staying so late…I planned to bow out at half time during the big USC vs. Arizona State ball game. But that plan was quickly laid to rest as we chatted about movies. Jerry and Louise told me about one of their favorite movies “Those Magnificent Men and Their Flying Machines”. Half time came…and on went the movie. I haven’t laughed that hard in a long time. The movie was made in 1965 long before ethnic humor was a no, no. I found myself quite smitten with Stuart Whitman…and looked forward to his movie scenes.

So after a wonderful day like that…how could I be downcast, tearful and feel devoid of the Christmas spirit? Let’s just say…I’m wrestling with God again. This time over His timing and trying to trust His good and perfect plan for me. I found myself…walking by sight…not faith as His word commands.

This morning I was greeted with an email from Mike Paddison as we exchanged post Thanksgiving greetings. Mike reported that he and his wife Jo had a nice Thanksgiving and were getting started on putting up Christmas decorations.

I filled him in on my Thanksgiving Day…and my struggle with God. I ended by telling him…I wasn’t even sure if I would decorate for Christmas. Mike encouraged me to put on some Christmas music...and the Christmas spirit would follow.

Well Michael wasn’t far off. Following a trip to the Main Place Mall I felt ready to get out the decorations. I ran into a snafu with my new Christmas tree…which necessitated a trip to the store to make an exchange. In the car…I put my new Josh Grogan Christmas CD in the player. As I was driving home on this clear windy night…Josh was singing The Little Drummer Boy.

That song has never impressed me to any degree…so I was surprised when I was quite moved by his rendition. My mind was flooded with thoughts…on being poor and having nothing to offer my Savior. I was reminded of one the beatitudes “blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”.

Suddenly my “sight walking faith” seemed to bear witness to my being so poor in spirit. But thank you Lord that I have the assurance of being with You in heaven in spite of my poor spirit.

Jesus…I’m sorry I keep looking with my physical eyes…and looking at my past. I haven’t been looking at my Savior who has power over sin and death. He who can bring victory over all my circumstances. Like Mary and Martha looking at dead Lazarus, I cry out “Where were you Lord? If only you had been here.”

But Jesus was about to work a miracle. Where their faith and sight walking ended…Jesus was going to perform a miracle. Oh Jesus I pray that You will work a miracle in me and my life too. I confess I am so poor in spirit. But nothing, no nothing is impossible with You!


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