Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A Precious Jewel

Today I feel like I’ve found a precious jewel hidden in the website of a lovely couple from church.  Jiri and his wife Cristin have a marvelous testimony about how God has worked in their lives.

They have a passion for God because they know of His power to transform us from being dead in our sin to being alive in Christ Jesus. 

Do you desire to have peace with God?  Do you want to know with absolute certainty that your sins have been forgiven and that when you die…you will be in heaven? 

Please visit Jiri Novak’s website Bible Step by Step and read “How and why to know God”.
For He says:
      “ In an acceptable time I have heard you,
      And in the day of salvation I have helped you.”

   Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation. – 2 Corinthians 6:2

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Under the Overpass


I am the nameless and faceless one
Whose eyes you seek to avoid
I make my home under the overpass
 
My very presence
Makes you feel uncomfortable
You don’t know how to respond to my plight
 
You’re not sure if I’m reaping the consequences
Of years of bad or sinful choices
Or if I’ve fallen victim during these tough times
 
Uncertain if you should give me a buck
Buy me a cup of coffee on that cold winter morn
Or if it’s all a scam from someone too lazy to work
 
When you see me fear runs through you
For I’m a reminder just how close you may be
To living under the overpass just like me
 
 
By Susan Bunts Wachtel
July 16, 2010

Sword of the Spirit




She’s been equipped by God
With an effective and powerful offensive weapon
The sword of the Spirit…the word of God
 
Daily she takes out her sword
Polishes it, sharpens it
Then returns it to its sheath
 
She’s filled her heart and mind
With God’s word
So that she might not sin against Him
 
But in the heat of the battle
She fails to draw her weapon
The enemy has nothing to fear from an un-wielded sword
 
One day when she takes God at His word
When she believes and therefore speaks
That foe will retreat and by God’s power she will stand
 
 
By Susan Bunts Wachtel
July 16, 2010
 
 
Too often, as Christians, we are quick to memorize scripture…adding verse after verse to our memory banks.  But until such time as we actually wield that mighty powerful sword of the Spirit…we will experience defeat.  When we memorize scripture but fail to use it, it’s like us taking out the sword, polishing it until it looks bright and shiny, sharpening the blade only to return it to the sheath.  When will we begin to take God at His word and wield the effective, powerful offensive weapon He’s given us?  What will it take?

Friday, July 16, 2010

Working Women


One of the questions from last evening’s devotional asked the husband if he felt that his wife appreciates his work. 

My husband Chris responded that he felt that I appreciate the work that he does around the home more than I appreciate the work he does at his job, because I see what he does around our home and the yard.  But he felt that I really don’t know what he does at work and don’t see him in action.

I explained that yes I do appreciate the fact that he is hard working and gainfully employed.  That he is respected and well thought of in his job and has advanced in his career.

After seeing some poor examples guys who are not employed…not temporarily because of a job layoff or due to illness…but because they are lazy and just plain don’t want to work…I greatly appreciate a man who goes to work day after day to earn a living and care for his family. 

I appreciate my husband’s job because through it he is able to care for our family…even if it’s just the two of us.  God wants a husband to provide and protect.  Chris is faithful, honorable and dedicated to do what God requires.

Even as I say that…I know that there are instances, through no fault of the people involved, where a husband may not be able to work…due to being laid off or illness.   Goodness knows that even people who want to find jobs in this bad economy, they may have to keep looking for an extended period of time.  Perseverance bears witness of a man who is responsible and continues to search for employment despite limited job opportunities.  There are also men and women who have been struck with a debilitating illness who would love to work…but because of their affliction…they are physically not able to work. 

I assured Chris that I do appreciate the work that he does…both in our home and at his job. 

I went on to say that I believe that a working woman may not appreciate a husband who works as much as a stay at home wife and mother.  The wife who works within the home and is committed to raising their children and being there for them…may have a deeper appreciation for her husband’s dedication and sacrifice for her and their family.

But a working woman…she’s out there in the job market too.  She is also enduring demands, challenges and difficulties in the workplace, just like men do.  She’s also out there working hard to bring home a paycheck to help the family and pay bills.  Because of that…the appreciation for the responsibility that a man bears to care for his family may be lessened.  Perhaps less so for a Christian wife…because we know what God requires of a husband.

I can’t help but think that it also impacts that all import area of respect. 

While it’s common and may even be necessary for women to work outside the home…I can’t help but think that the impact on marriages, husbands, wives and children is not all good.  There is a price to pay for everything.  I wonder sometimes...is the cost too high? 

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Trust

A recent conversation about trust got me to thinking.  In practical terms what does trust mean?  What does trust look like being lived out in my everyday life?
 
I often respond to be people through the framework of my past…both good and bad experiences, healthy and unhealthy.  That may cause me to unfairly evaluate a person’s actions and attribute motives that they may not have.   

I believe that trust can begin with the character of the person in whom I trust. 
 
Here are some of the characteristics that may influence me to trust.  When I believe someone is basically good and has good and kind intentions towards me.  When they don’t seem to have a hidden agenda that influences their actions or words.  When a person is open and transparent.  When they are quick to apologize if they’ve done wrong or said something unkind.  If they take ownership of their words, action, attitudes and choices...and don’t play the blame game.  Someone whose mood and actions are not easily influenced when things aren’t going their way.  When they are consistent in words and deeds.  Someone who is humble, teachable and growing in grace and wisdom. 
 
With that said…people are flawed, sinful and may not always act in a way that evokes trust.  What am I to do, how should I respond?  How does trust grow relationships with two people who are growing, changing and are a work in progress?  I’m not sure I have the answer to that question.  Perhaps it’s something for me to contemplate and bring before the Lord.
 
When I look at the attributes of someone who is trustworthy…God is so far beyond anything on that list.  From His word and from His present and active work in my life…I can know with certainty that He is good and only has good intentions for me.
 
So why is it that sometimes I don’t trust God? 
 
For one thing…often I see people…including God through lenses that have been shattered by life and people that are sinful.  God may allow things in my life that are painful and difficult.  God may answer some of my prayers with a resounding “No” or I may only hear silence.  In my humanity…it may be difficult for me to see that God truly is working things out for good for me.  The good that God is working out may only be manifest in heaven...not here on earth.  He may be allowing pain with the purpose of growing me or causing me to depend on Him. 
 
As I grow in my knowledge of God and who He is…my trust in Him will grow.  When I choose to believe His word over my feelings and circumstances…my trust will remain steadfast.  If I believe that God is good and working out everything for good…I can trust Him and the work He is doing even in the midst of difficult circumstances.  When I have an ongoing relationship with God…I can come to Him and ask for wisdom and discernment when dealing with people.  When I am willing to bring God my wounds and let Him bring healing…I can learn to trust people and see how my past has colored my vision. 
 

Friday, July 09, 2010

In Passing


When you hear the news that I have passed from this life
Please do not grieve as those without hope
For I am truly home
 
My faith has given way to sight
That which was dim, I can now see clearly
What was once my hope, is now reality
 
Absent from the body, I’m now present with the Lord
From my Savior’s lips I heard the words I longed for
Well done good and faithful servant
 
I have now entered in to the joy of my Master
Where I am there is no more sin, sickness, sorrow or death
I’m forever more in the presence of Christ Jesus my Lord
 
 
Susan Bunts Wachtel
July 8, 2010

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Encounters with the Past through the Grid of God’s Grace

One thing you learn early on in marriage is how different men and women are and how different both individuals are. 
 
I rise early and shortly after getting up…I’m wide awake.  Chris on the other hand wakes up more slowly and isn’t ready to engage in a conversation early in the morning.  At the end of the day…unless it’s been an exhausting day…I’m still ready to engage in conversation with Chris or anyone else for that matter.  After all…we haven’t seen each other most of the day.  But when Chris comes home after a long day filled with pressing needs and demands, he is ready to decompress, rest and put the day behind him.  Top on his list usually isn’t having an involved conversation. 
 
I have the need and desire to talk…and Chris is okay with just being together without conversation.  Over the last 20 months…I’ve gotten more used to it.  But on occasion…I find myself hurt when Chris is overly quiet or find myself questioning, “is he mad at me?” .  Now instead of fretting or worrying…I just ask him if he’s okay?  Ninety-nine percent of the time the answer is he’s fine…just tired or that he had a long day. 
 
After one of those quiet spells, I told Chris that while I didn’t understand why…that when he is quiet sometimes I feel like he is rejecting me.  That somewhere there is an unspoken message that I’m not worthy to be spoken to.  It brings up feelings that I am a non-entity.  I didn’t know where those feelings originated…I presumed from the past, but didn’t know where.  But now it’s impacting my relationship with my husband. 
 
Of course Chris responded that not what he’s feeling at all.  He’s just tired and tends to be more on the quiet side.  I have no doubt what Chris says is true…but where in the world did those feelings come from?  Where indeed.
 
My God is so gracious in helping me to understand where those feelings originated from.  But He did it at a time when I can approach those feelings with the confidence and assurance of who I am in Christ.  He let me see it after I’ve matured and grown in the grace and knowledge of Him.
 
Recently I had an encounter with someone from the past.  Someone who I hadn’t seen in years.  I said “Hi” and introduced my husband Chris to him.  It was the first time he had met Chris.  After shaking hands and greeting us he didn’t say a word to us for the rest of the evening.  The encounter was kind of uncomfortable…yet insightful.
 
God brought to mind that 25 or 30 years earlier, this man had treated me that same way.  If I was in the same room…he treated me as if I didn’t exist.  He would seldom look at me or talk to me.  This wasn’t a one-time only experience, but repeated over and over again.
 
I came away from this encounter with knowledge about why today, when someone won’t talk to me, it brings back feelings that I am unworthy and a non-person.  While it was a painful reminder on something that I had tried to put behind me, it’s something that I can now bring before the Lord and receive the emotional healing that I need.
 
Praise God…I now see myself through the grid of God’s grace.  I am mindful that in Christ…I am blessed, chosen, adopted, accepted, redeemed and forgiven.  What does it matter if man rejects me…when I have been accepted in the Beloved?
 
During those late teens and early adulthood years…I was still trying to figure out who I was.  I didn’t know the Lord…so that rejection had a huge impact on me.
 
Today, I can also see that this person is troubled and in need of the Lord every bit as much as I was and continue to be.  So every time the enemy seeks to remind me of this rejection I can turn it around and be in prayer for him.  I don’t want to let the enemy win on this one.  He’s already taken enough ground in this battle…it’s time to take it back.    
 
God is able to redeem my hurts and bring healing.  He is even able to tender my heart so that I am sensitive to those who also deal with feelings of rejection.  Praise His Holy Name!
 

Death


The inescapable reality of death surrounds me
When tempted to ponder why bad things happen to good people
I am reminded…all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God
 
Genesis 3:6...sin entered the world
Along with it…death
The track record is impressive…100%
 
Am I ready to I stand before God
Have my sins been covered by the blood of the Lamb
Have my sins been removed as far as the east is from the west
 
Or will I choose to given an account for my sins
Plead my case
Though I’m not perfect, surely I’m not as bad as some
 
Does God have a perfect standard or does he grade on the curve
Will He look on my outside appearance
Or will He examine the inward thoughts and intention of my heart
 
While I’ve never committed murder or adultery
In my heart I’ve hated my brother and lusted after another’s spouse
In me lies no good thing
 
I have put others before You Lord
Raised up idols disguised as wants and needs
Cursed You or casually tossed around Your name
 
Oh Lord, I am undone
At the thought of standing before the Holy & Righteous One
My lips will plead, “Guilty”
 
But in Christ I have an Advocate
My Defender will stand beside me
He will plead my case
 
“Father, she’s been redeemed
My blood was shed on Calvary for her
Her sins are covered and she’s been set free
 
My sin debt has been marked “Paid in Full”
The Father now sees me clothed in the righteousness of Christ
He will remember my sins no more
 
 
Susan Bunts Wachtel
July 2, 2010

Picture a Day - Wild Yarrow

The yarrow in our garden is one of my favorite plants.  In the wild, it's just as pretty.